Photo by Joseph De Leo; styled by Mariya Yufest
If Khorasan wheat was trying to hide for thousands of years in the Near East, it clearly succeeded. Until just 25 years ago, the large, humpbacked grains, now recognized under the brand name Kamut, were relatively unknown in the U.S., having only arrived stateside in 1949 in the form of 32 kernels. The transporter (with more precious cargo than any Jason Statham movie) was a U.S. airman who obtained the seeds from Egypt, but the wheat's exact origins remain unknown. One theory is that the introduction came by way of ancient Greek or Roman armies. And a Turkish legend claims Noah took Khorasan wheat on his ark.
As if this wheat hadn't weathered enough storms, its low yield and initial introduction as a novelty grain in the 1960s made its adoption as a household staple a challenge. Even today, after the establishment of the Kamut brand name and the production and distribution of numerous cereals, breads, pastas, and other products, Kamut remains a lesser-known member of the ancient grain crew, which includes such celebrities as quinoa and downright chic farro. Here, this under-the-radar kernel takes risotto for a spin, an attention-getting preparation that is quickly becoming a launch pad for grains of all shapes and sizes.
Kamut and Roasted Cauliflower Risotto
1 1/2 cup Kamut, soaked 8 hours or overnight in cold water to cover
1 cup dry white wine
1 large shallot, finely chopped
4-5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, warmed, divided
5 cups cauliflower florets, broken into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
• • • • •
Our family got hooked again this winter on cauliflower. It's so versatile: you can make it into a purée, roast it, boil it, or add to a dish like this for some extra body. I gotta say, when you're cooking cauliflower, it smells a little funky. That actually helps with the wine selection. Bold aromas in food are good with bold aromas in wine. Go for Sauvignon Blanc if you want a dry wine or a Riesling if you want something a little sweet. Both will be good with all the spices in the dish, but the Riesling has the edge on the Kamut. Kamut is a hearty grain that pairs nicely with the body of Riesling.
2010 Patient Cottat "Le Grand Caillou" Sauvignon Blanc
2008 Von Hövel Oberemmeler Hütte Riesling Spätlese
How do you prepare Kamut? Share your cooking tips and serving suggestions in the comments section below.
Like this post? See the Make This Tonight topic from last week: Red Snapper with Pumpkin Seed Pesto.