Since writing this post about bread and learning about the dramatic differences between modern and ancient wheats, I’ve been experimenting more and more with different varieties of ancient grains.
Currently, I’m using a lot of einkorn flour, pasta, and wheat berries in my cooking. I enjoy that it has 30% more protein than modern varieties of wheat, has 3 times less gluten, more B vitamins and trace minerals like iron, and especially that it tastes wonderful. Einkorn has a sweet, nuttiness to it that makes both savory and sweet baked treats delightful.
Being that we’ve been experiencing frigid weather in the midwest I’ve been making heartier comfort foods for my family. We enjoy a good home-made macaroni and cheese so to beef my regular recipe up and give us some added energy during this colder part of the year, I made an einkorn pasta, spinach mac and cheese topped with toasted einkorn wheat berries.
After seeing this recipe at Nourished Kitchen, I wanted to experiment a bit using einkorn wheat berries. I thought they would add a delightful crunch to the top of my macaroni and cheese. But before I cooked them, I decided to toast them a bit to add a bit more depth to their nutty flavor.
Toasting them let out a deep, nutty aroma throughout my entire home that left each family member wanting to eat a spoonful of these, still to hard to eat, kernels. After toasting the einkorn wheat berries for a bit, I cooked them down in boiling water until soft and tender.
They cook down much like buckwheat groats, on a medium simmer, uncovered.
While the einkorn wheat berries were cooking down, I put a large pot of heavy salted water to a boil and cooked the einkorn pasta. At the same time, I started a roux as the base to my cheese sauce.
A roux is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour used for thickening sauces and soups.
For making macaroni and cheese, you would start by melting butter, and then adding some flour to thicken it. It’s mixed and cooked through for about 2-3 minutes to develop flavors, and then milk is slowly added which quickly thickens the mixture. To make it creamy, about 2 cups of fresh grated cheddar cheese is added turning it all into a beautifully thickened cheese sauce.
Once the pasta was cooked to al dente and my cheese sauce was made, I mixed it all together with a couple large handfuls of green spinach.
I then topped it with extra cheese for creaminess and topped it with the cooked toasted wheat berries. I baked it uncovered for 25 minutes and was pleased that the wheat berries on top gave it that extra crunch I was hoping for.
A completely comforting and nourishing macaroni and cheese.
Einkorn Pasta, Spinach Mac and Cheese with Toasted Einkorn Wheat Berries. A completely comforting and nourishing macaroni and cheese recipe.
- 1 cup, organic einkorn wheat berries
- 2 tbls butter
- 2 cups water
- 12 oz package, organic einkorn fusilli
- 3 tbls salt
- 4 tbls butter
- 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup Jovial, organic einkorn flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 3 cups cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/2 tsp, large granule salt
- dash of fresh pepper
- 3 large handfuls spinach
- Preheat oven to 375F
- In a small skillet, melt 2 tbls butter. Add the wheat berries and cook through, toasting, for 3-5 minutes. It will let out a mouth watering, nutty fragrance. While it’s toasting, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.
- Once toasted, add the wheat berries to the boiling water, lower the heat to a simmer and cook through, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until the water has evaporated and the wheat berries are tender.
- While the wheat berries are cooking through, bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding 3 tbls of salt. Once the water has come to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook through for 12 minutes or until al dente. Drain, and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet or cast iron pan, melt 4 tbls butter. Add the onion and cook through until they just start to turn translucent. Add the flour, and whisk through for about 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the milk and continue to whisk through until it turns into a sauce and thickens. Add 2 cups of cheese, again, whisking through until it melts and everything comes together into creamy goodness. Finish by adding a 1/2 tsp of salt... not too much since the cheese already has salt... and a fresh cracking of pepper.
- Once the sauce is done, finish by tossing the spinach with the pasta and then mixing in the creamy cheese sauce.
- Pour the creamy pasta into a baking dish and top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese and about 3/4 of the cooked einkorn wheat berries.
- Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes, uncovered.
To save some time in the kitchen, feel free to omit the toasted wheat berries and sprinkle and top with breadcrumbs.
Don’t forget Jovial Foods has offered My Humble Kitchen readers a coupon code good until March 1st! Use HumbleK to get 10% off and FREE shipping from their online store!
What are your families favorite comfort foods to eat during this time of year?