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RECIPES: Cooking with ancient grains


Some of my favourite recipes for cooking with whole grains:


Use any pre-cooked whole grain in this recipe — einkorn or farro are good candidates — and top with cooked sausage or roasted vegetables, if desired.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup white wine

3-4 cups cooked whole grains, cooled

½ cup chicken broth

1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onion over medium heat until starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook together for 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine, stirring up any browned bits, then add the grain and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted.

Add the chicken broth and stir until absorbed, then add the cream and butter. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring, then remove from heat and mix in the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste and serve. Serves 4.


In Italy, ancient grains including spelt, emmer and einkorn are known as farro, and farro soup is a specialty in Tuscany where much of this grain is grown. This hearty bowl makes a savoury supper that’s rich in protein and fibre.

4 thick slices smoky bacon, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

4 stalks celery, diced

½ pound white or brown mushrooms, cleaned and diced

3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

¾ cup farro (pearled whole ancient grains such as spelt, emmer and/or einkorn)

½ cup white wine

3 tablespoons brandy

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1½ cups cooked white beans (rinsed and drained, if canned)

8-10 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock

salt to taste

2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley

In a large soup pot, sauté the chopped bacon in the olive oil over medium heat until it’s starting to crisp. Stir in the chopped onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring, until he vegetable are tender and starting to brown.

Stir in the garlic and farro and cook for 2 minutes, then add the white wine and brandy. Continue to cook together, until most of the liquid has evaporated, then stir in the thyme and the beans.

Add about 8 cups of the stock to the pan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 35-45 minutes, until the vegetables and grains are tender. You may need to add additional broth to obtain the right consistency.

Season the soup with salt to taste, then stir in the fresh parsley. Serve immediately or chill overnight to meld the flavours, then reheat. Serves 6-8.


Here’s a whole grain dessert recipe from Awesome Ancient Grains & Seeds by food writer Michele Genest and heirloom seed expert Dan Jason (Harbour Publishing).

2 cups water

2/3 cup raw barley

1⅓ cups milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp butter, melted

1 tsp pure almond extract

¼ cup organic brown sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp anise or fennel seeds

½ cup (chopped dried apricots


½ cup 35 percent cream, whipped

2 Tbsp toasted slivered almonds

In a saucepan, combine water and barley and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer until barley is soft but still chewy, about 45 minutes. Drain excess water. Grease an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan and preheat oven to 325 F (160 C).

Beat together the milk, eggs, butter, almond extract, sugar, salt and anise seeds. Stir in cooked barley and apricots. Pour into prepared baking pan and set inside a larger baking pan. Fill larger pan with enough hot water come halfway up sides of baking pan.

Bake for 55 minutes, then remove the custard pan from the water and bake for another 5 minutes. When the pudding is done, a knife inserted in the centre should come out clean. Serve warm or cold, topped with whipped cream and toasted almonds. Serves 6-8.


Anita’s Organic Mill produces a variety of ancient grain flours at its facility in Chilliwack, and offers tips and recipes for using ancient grains on their website,

350 g Anita’s Organic All Purpose Flour

140 g Anita’s Organic Stone Ground Spelt Flour

300 g water

¼ tsp instant yeast

11g salt

30 g maple syrup

60 g pecans, roughly chopped

8 sage leaves, chopped

Combine yeast and water, then mix remaining ingredients until no dry bits remain. Transfer to an oiled container and let rise overnight (10-12 hours) until doubled in size.

Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured counter taking care not to deflate it. Shape by stretching each side up and pressing it down into the center of the dough.

Place seam side down in a cloth-lined bowl that has been thoroughly dusted with rice flour to prevent sticking.

Allow the shaped dough to rise for 1 hour. Meanwhile set the oven to 500 degrees F and place around cast iron dutch oven into the oven while it preheats.

Tip the dough out onto a square of parchment and place the dough and parchment into the preheated dutch oven. Bake with the lid on for 20 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 450 degrees F and remove the lid. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until dark brown and crusty. Makes 1 loaf.


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