Today’s salad creation was inspired by some of our finds from our trek to the Farmers Market on Saturday. Though I have to admit it wasn’t as crazy as it usually is. Normally the approach to the market can be quite stressful. Along a narrow back road, cars are parked on both sides, bumper to bumper, for almost half a kilometer just to get to the overflow “parking lot.” Now, that’s not the stressful part. It’s the children and off leash dogs running hither and thither, sneaking through the tight narrow spaces between the bumpers, only to surprise on coming traffic with their “jack in the box” presence. Jack in the box with kids + cars = Scary. This particular Saturday there were actually visible spaces between the vehicles. That was nice.
One of the most exciting thing about living in a small community is discovering all the surprising things that are available at the local farmers markets. I think we’re especially fortunate here in the Comox Valley because we have such a long growing season and diverse agricultural lands – at least by Canadian standards. The land is rich with a multitude of food producers, from cheese artisans, farmers that sell partridges, quail eggs, bison, arugula, scape, edible flowers and the list goes on. As for value added products, we have products such as wasabi from a local farm specializing in Asian vegetables, jams that the most avid foodie would lust after, stone fired breads, beeswax candles, pasta, venison pate and enchiladas.
So, on to the first “find” of the day: bocconcini made from water buffalo milk. This is not common. So uncommon in fact that I have never tried it, even though bocconcini is a regular grocery item in our cart. Natural Pastures Cheese Company is always doing great things. They are the first to produce real bocconcini in Canada. One of my current favorites from this local cheese company is a Boerenkaas Cheese. It is so delightful, with it’s big and unique flavor, perfect for a cheese platter.
Have any of you tried Boerenkaas or real bocconcini before? They have many other cheeses that are swoon worthy, but I digress. Back to the Bocconcini di Bufala.
A fresh cheese that has a soft, spongy texture with flavors that delicately unfold. I was curious as to it’s similarity to cow’s milk bocconcini which is readily available at super markets. For the record they are only alike in shape. It was “close your eyes, go to a private happy place” scrumptious. It was one of my most enjoyable taste tests to date. It really should be called “Hold on Susie Q! You’re going for a taste bud adventure you’ll want tell your grandkids about!” But their choice of name might be more marketable to the general public.
Second was the arugula I picked up. Baby arugula is often a favorite for salads since the leaves are tender and the taste is mild yet peppery. It’s the peppery taste of the leaf that keeps me coming back. It’s hard to find the balance of a young tender leaf with a well developed pepper bite. This one had both.
A few words about Kamut, pronounced Ka-moot. It is an ancient grain believed to have originated from Egypt, hence the different sounding name. Kamut means “wheat” in the ancient Egyptian tongue. I wanted to create a few recipes using this grain because of it’s interesting relationship with the body and those sensitive to gluten. Though it’s a cousin of wheat, many people with wheat sensitivities can eat Kamut with no problems. Kamut has not undergone the same genetic altercation as modern day high yielding wheat. What’s interesting is that even though it has less fiber than it’s cousin, it maintains higher levels of protein, fat and antioxidant minerals.
Kamut Salad with Roasted Beets, Arugula and Bocconcini
- 2 Large beets
1 cup dry kamut
3 cups arugula
1 cup Bocconcini
2 green onions finely sliced
The first step can be done ahead of time, during dinner the night before or while doing other projects around the home since it’s a “turn on the stove and go” kind of prep.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Wash and slice the beets into quarters or smaller. The smaller the pieces the less cooking time required. Toss the cut beets with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the beets to a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes or until tender. In a small pot, add 1 cup of dry kamut to 3 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or until tender. Drain the water off the kamut. Kamut, like wheat berries will maintain a backbone. It’s this backbone that resembles a cashew. This texture is what sets it apart from many other grain style salads like millet or quinoa. Allow the beets and the kamut to cool.
NOTE: By soaking the Kamut overnight, the cooking time can be reduced to 30 to 40 minutes. In this case, I did not do that since the Kamut and beets take approximately the same time to cook so I didn’t bother.
Now for the simple 5 minute process of putting a meal sized salad on the table. Chop the beets and the Bocconcini into bite size pieces. Add all the ingredients to the bowl. Add dressing a little at a time making sure not to over do it.
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2-3 Tbsp honey (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a small mason jar. At least that’s how I do it. But a bowl, cup or vessel of choice will work. Put on the lid and screw on tight. Shake the bejesus out of it. Taste and adjust the sweetness with honey and add the salt and pepper. Alternately stirring with a spoon works too but way less fun.
Add only enough dressing to the salad to lightly coat. The Kamut kernels and the cheese will absorb some of the dressing over time and you’ll want to reserve some to add later if making ahead of time.
NOTE: If you don’t plan to eat the entire salad in one sitting, add the arugula to each individual plate and top with the kamut, beets and boccocini. This will prevent the leaves from wilting and loosing their flavor and freshness.