Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Olive Tapenade with Einkorn Berries

Einkorn tapenade with crackers.
It's not often that I get a cookbook where I've never used the main ingredient before.

But that was the case when I got The Einkorn Cookbook by Shanna and Tim Mallon.

Einkorn is an ancient form of wheat that's making a comeback, following in the footsteps of spelt and farro.

I've used both spelt and farro, and for sure I've used a wheatfield worth of wheat. But while I'd heard of einkorn, I'd never cooked with it, and I'd never eaten it, either.

Still, I figured I'd like it just fine, since I liked all of its relatives well enough. I did a little hunting and was able to find both einkorn berries and einkorn flour at a nearby natural food store. Score!

Einkorn salad with tomatoes and feta.
I figured that I'd try recipes using both forms, eventually, so I bought both the flour and the berries. I mean, hey, I had a whole cookbook, right?

As I was browsing through the book, I figured that a recipe using the berries would give me the best idea of the flavor of einkorn, so I picked out a recipe for an olive tapenade that was supposed to be served as topping for crusty bread.

I served the tapenade with crackers on the first day, but then decided to turn the leftovers into a salad.

To make that salad, I chopped up some tomatoes and cubed some feta cheese and added it to my olive tapenade along with extra cooked einkorn berries and a few extra olives that I roughly chopped.

I mixed it all together, then added a small drizzle of olive oil, It was a darned good salad.

I have to say that I'm pretty pleased with the einkorn berries - they've got a satisfying texture and a slightly nutty flavor. They should be just fine in any recipe that uses spelt berries or farro, and probably some that call for barley, wheat berries, or bulgur. Or, you know, get the cookbook and you'll have plenty of recipes.

To cook the einkorn berries:
Soak the einkorn berries for 8 hours (or overnight) in a bowl with enough water to cover by about an inch, along with 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar.

After soaking, drain and rinse the berries and put them in a heavy-bottomed pot.

Add 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook until the berries are al dente - figure about 30 minutes - stirring as needed.

This makes about 2 1/2 cups of berries, so you'll have enough for the tapenade, plus more for other recipes. The book says the cooked berries can be kept refrigerated for 2 weeks, so you needn't worry about using them right away.

Olive Tapenade

Adapted from The Einkorn Cookbook by Shanna and Tim Mallon.

1 cup pitted kalamata olives (or your choice of olive)
1/4 cup capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup basil leaves, thyme, or parsley
1 cup cooked einkorn berries

Put the olives, capers, mustard and basil (or other fresh herbs - I used a mix) in your food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the olives are finely diced, but not pureed.

It's perfectly fine if there are a few slightly larger pieces of olive in the mix - it's better to have those than to turn the olives into a paste.

Add the olive mixture to the einkorn berries in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until needed.

Serve with crusty bread or crackers.

I received the cookbook from the publisher at no cost to me; I bought the einkorn.