Courtesy of Maria Speck

Last spring, we started cooking our way through Maria Speck's award-winning Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. And while we loved all her tasty, easy-to-master offerings, our only complaint was that we wanted more. Lucky for us, Speck willingly sent us a bonus recipe. Rich, buttery Kamut berries (an ancient relative of modern durum wheat) lend their distinct chew to this bright, late-winter salad, which combines tender leeks, crunchy walnuts and plump golden raisins with zesty oranges and aromatic blue cheese. It makes an excellent lunch, side dish or dinner salad and is an all-around versatile recipe that should keep us satisfied--for a while.

Kamut Salad with Leeks, Oranges and Blue Cheese

Recipe by Maria Speck [www.MariaSpeck.com]

  • Makes 4 side-dish servings
  • Start to finish: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

1½ cups water

¾ cup Kamut berries, soaked overnight and drained

1 bay leaf (optional)

1 small dried red chile (optional)

¼ cup golden raisins

1 large orange

2 medium leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, rinsed, and sliced ¾-inch thick

½ cup chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade

½ cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

1/3 cup mild crumbled blue cheese

3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, bring the water and Kamut berries to a boil. Add the bay leaf and chile, if using, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the Kamut berries are tender but still slightly chewy, about 60 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and keep the Kamut berries covered to steam for 10 minutes. Drain the Kamut berries and transfer to a large serving bowl to cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the raisins with hot water, cover and set aside. Finely grate the skin of the orange to yield 1 teaspoon zest. Set aside. Peel the orange, removing any pith, and cut out the segments with a sharp knife. Cut the segments into ½-inch pieces.

3. In a large saucepan, combine the leeks with the broth and wine and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low, cover and simmer until the leeks are soft, about 7 minutes. Drain the leeks and combine with the Kamut berries in the serving bowl. Drain the raisins and add them and the orange segments to the bowl.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the reserved teaspoon of orange zest, the honey, ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper until smooth. Slowly whisk in the olive oil in a thin stream until combined.

5. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Gently toss again and sprinkle with the walnuts, blue cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.

Finishing Touches

It's the details that count! Try these tips

  • Speck suggests cooking the Kamut berries up to five days ahead of time and chilling. The salad (without walnuts, cheese and parsley) can be prepared four to six hours in advance. Chill, covered, and bring to room temperature before serving, then top with the remaining ingredients.

  • For a different approach, try the recipe with two cups cooked whole-grain farro, spelt or wheat berries in place of the Kamut berries.

  • Bob's Red Mill is a great source for Kamut berries, as well as other grains, oats and cereals.