From Ancient Fare to Holiday Flair

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Nutty, nutritious einkorn wheat begins a culinary tradition.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY MEGAN GORDON

When it comes to getting into the kitchen during the holiday season, many of us start to feel our blood pressure rise. For me, it’s not so much about family, timing dishes perfectly, or making enough food, it’s more that every year I feel like we don’t have our thing — the one side dish we’re really known for, the winning way we always do a Thanksgiving turkey, or the recipe we always prepare Christmas morning. Somehow, having our son two years ago has only amplified this anxiety, with me all but convincing myself that our family has got to get its act together and get our food canon locked down.

Of course, like all of you, we’re busy people, and the reason our food canon is not locked down is because I often wait until the week before the event to start making lists and pacing the kitchen. Then, more often than not, I convince myself that there’s a lot to be said for trying a new recipe – so we generally travel that road – and everyone leaves well-fed and happy, and I sit at the counter assuring myself that we’ll work on our food traditions next time around.

Well, here we are again, and this year we’re mixing it up — but deliberately so — with this vibrant and delicious grain bowl and these dangerously addictive scones, both made with einkorn.

If you haven’t heard of einkorn, it’s an ancient wheat — actually, the earliest variety of cultivated wheat. With as much protein as quinoa, einkorn is the most nutritious of the wheat varieties, and it’s said Insert: “said” instead? to be easier to digest than others, too. Cooked einkorn berries have a chewy texture, and the flour has a sweet, nutty flavor, making both prime candidates for mixing it up at the holiday table this year. You can find both einkorn berries and flour online, although thanks to its superior nutritional profile and growing popularity, more local retailers will start stocking it on store shelves (keep an eye on those bulk bins!). I’ll keep my fingers crossed for as much, as next year, we’re keeping these two in the rotation. Cheers to the (slow) building of a food canon.

Dark Chocolate Gingerbread Scones

With a deep, dark flavor, thanks to the maple syrup, brown sugar, and molasses, these scones are an easy fit for the holiday morning table. They feature both crystallized and ground ginger and a generous handful of dark chocolate, so I’m guessing that even the scone skeptics in your life may pull up a chair.

Serves: 6 | Start to Finish:  75 minutes

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups (300g) all-purpose einkorn flour
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, divided
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chunks (at least 60% cacao)
3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coarse decorating sugar for topping (optional)

Recipe

Line 1 large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.

Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until it resembles a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together milk, 1 egg, maple syrup, and molasses. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together gently until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and crystallized ginger.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and gather it into a ball (you will likely have to flour your hands, as the dough will be quite sticky). Pat the dough into a flat circle about 1 inch thick. Transfer to a plate and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove dough from freezer and slice into six even triangle wedges.

Beat the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water and brush the tops of each scone with the egg wash. Sprinkle sugar on top if desired. Place scones on prepared baking sheet.

Bake 12–16 minutes or until scones are golden brown. Remove pan from oven and transfer scones to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

(Vegetarian)

Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Delicata Squash Salad  

A fall, whole-grain salad is a must at our holiday table, and this one wins rave reviews for its maple-roasted squash and shaved Brussels sprouts. The fresh herbs bring the color, and the chopped hazelnuts bring the crunch. Even better the next day, this salad is always a great candidate for doubling, so your guests get to take home leftovers – or you can simply take advantage of having lunch ready for the next few days.

Start to Finish:  90 minutes

For the Dressing:

1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, whisk garlic, vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup. Slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the Salad:

1 medium delicata squash (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/4-in slices
1 small red onion, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-in slices
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups einkorn berries, rinsed
2-ounce chunk pecorino cheese
1/3 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shaved on a mandoline
1/3 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
kosher salt
freshly-ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Recipe

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Place the squash and onion slices in a medium bowl and drizzle with maple syrup and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread squash mixture out onto one large, rimmed baking sheet and bake until tender and golden brown, 25–30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, bring water to a vigorous oil. Add einkorn wheat berries, reduce heat to low, and cover the pot. Simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, 35–40 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes.

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the pecorino cheese and set aside (you should have about 1/2 cup).

Transfer einkorn to a large serving bowl. Fold in the Brussels sprouts, chives, hazelnuts and lemon zest. Pour the dressing over the top and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as desired. Gently fold in the roasted delicata squash mixture, as well as the parsley. Serve room temperature. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

(Vegetarian)


Megan Gordon is a writer, recipe developer, culinary educator and small business consultant. She’s the founder of Marge Granola, a company specializing in crazy delicious whole grain cereals. When not baking and writing, Megan can be found at the beach with her husband Sam and toddler son, Oliver.

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