Monday, December 6, 2010

Ten Posts of Pumpkin: (9) Warm Pumpkin, Pomegranate and Kamut Salad

Kamut? What the heck is kamut?

Well. Let me just tell you: Kamut is a brand of wheat. Literally, it's been branded by an organization called Kamut International Ltd. In addition to being brand-name wheat, it's also organic and allegedly ancient, and when prepared in its whole-grain form, it's higher in protein, complex carbohydrates, and certain minerals (selenium, zinc, and magnesium) than the wheat we consume more regularly. We buy cereal made with kamut and I sometimes grind kamut grains into flour for my daughter's super baby porridge, but this time around, I actually prepared it as a whole grain. Doing so is quite a process, v. similar to cooking dried beans. (I've described the process at the end of the actual recipe - note that you have to start the day before you want to eat the salad.) It resembles farro or brown rice when dry, but then more than doubles in size when cooked.

kamut before and after

I ended up making two different meals with my pot o' kamut, and all in all I'm quite pleased with this little brand-name grain. It's mild in flavor, which makes it quite versatile, but its texture is interesting enough to make it distinctive. It's sort of chewy, in a good way - chewy delicious. And it's v. filling. This salad could easily be a main course, served with a simple green salad or curried soup on the side. I've included a few ideas for substitutions in the notes preceding the actual recipe, in the event that this post does not sufficiently inspire you to find your way to the health food store and get yourself some kamut.

salad in serving bowl

Did I mention this salad is also quite pretty? Well, it is. I wish I had a party to bring it to.

Final pre-recipe notes:

1. There are good instructions for how to cut and seed a pomegranate here. Be sure to wear an apron and have your computer reasonably far away from you and the pomegranate. Once you remove the seeds you will understand why pomegranate juice and pre-packaged pomegranate seeds are so pricey.


2. I used "2 cups" of pumpkin, which was about half a small pumpkin. I think a small butternut squash, or half a medium or large butternut squash, or a whole acorn squash, would work just as well. While I steamed my pumpkin, roasting it would probably add even more autumnal flavor to the salad. (Next time.)

3. In place of kamut, cooked farro, wild rice, or wheat berries could be used, or even chickpeas. You could also go side-salad with this and just toss the pumpkin, pomegranate, dressing, etc. with some fresh, torn spinach, or some barely-wilted kale or chard, instead of a grain or legume.

4. There's no substitution for the pomegranate molasses if you go ahead with the dressing recipe. It is an especially unique, complex, sweet, wonderful component to this concoction, and it smells like candy. But a homemade or purchased tahini dressing (like Annie's Goddess dressing) or an orange vinaigrette of some kind would probably be a decent substitution for the pomegranate molasses dressing in its entirety. You'll want to use about 1/3 cup of dressing to start with.

pumpkin kamut salad
single serving of salad

Warm Pumpkin, Pomegranate and Kamut Salad
From yours truly, inspired by this
Yield: about 3-4 cups; 4 main course servings

2 cups cooked kamut*
2 cups pumpkin or other winter squash, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
Seeds from one pomegranate (about 1 cup)
2 ounces feta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

4 tablespoons good quality olive oil
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon brown rice syrup (or honey or maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)

Start out by either steaming or roasting your pumpkin until it's al dente. (About 15 minutes of steaming on the stove; or tossed with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and roasted in a 425-degree oven for 20-25 minutes.) In the meantime, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until emulsified.

Place kamut in serving bowl. Evenly distribute warm pumpkin on top of kamut, followed by the pomegranate seeds. Drizzle about half the dressing over the salad and finish by crumbling the feta cheese and then sprinkling the parsley on top. Toss just before serving. Serve at room temperature with the remainder of the dressing on the side.

* To cook kamut: Place 1/2 cup dried kamut in a saucepan. Cover with water and soak overnight, or at least 8 hours. When ready to cook the kamut, which you can do a couple days before making the salad (just keep it in the refrigerator until you start cooking your pumpkin, then remove it and allow it to come to room temp), drain the kamut and rinse it well. Place pre-soaked kamut in the saucepan again and cover with 2" of water. Bring to boil and then simmer, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes, until kamut is cooked through, but a little chewy.

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