Apr
07
2010
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Dinkel, dinkel little star

Add 2 dl/1 cup to your usual sourdough recipe for better results

While everyone has been focusing on best techniques for preparing Easter lamb, I’ve been thinking about how to freshen up my diet for the spring. One way to do that is to reduce the amount of refined white flour and to introduce more fiber, fruits and vegetables. I do, however, love that nice slice of sourdough bread (search for recipes in this blog) and find it hard to give up that zone of my culinary life. There is a way, however, to include that slice or two and improve the quality of your diet. Dinkel or spelt is one answer.

First a little background on dinkel. It’s been grown for consumption in northern Europe for the past 3000 years making it one of our oldest grains. During the 19th century and into the 20th production of spelt reduced considerably as it was more labor-intensive to produce than our modern white flour.  Thanks to the continuation of limited production in southern Germany and Switzerland, dinkel was kept alive as a healthy grain alternative.

Dinkel offers excellent benefits from both health and environmental points of view. First, I need to clarify one misunderstood issue: dinkel is easier for people who are gluten-intolerant to consume, but it isn’t gluten-free. In contrast to regular wheat flour, dinkel contains essential nutrients not only in the husk but also inside the grain. These include essential amino acids, vitamins B1 and B2 and several essential minerals such as iron, copper and zinc. In comparison to whole wheat flour, the nutritional differences are not as great until you examine the environmental differences. The husk of spelt protects it from spoilage by many of the pests and diseases that afflict regular wheat. For this reason it is easier to grow biodynamically. Spelt is also less demanding on the soil, growing even in poor soils.

As we learn increasingly that the key to meeting our nutritional needs into the future rests partly on bringing greater diversity into our diets, I cannot recommend trying spelt more. While you can purchase it in the form of flour and use it in baking just as you would any regular flour, I suggest trying to integrate it into salads and as a side dish in meals as a substitute for whatever starch you would otherwise consume with your meal. If you are going to try it, you’ll need to remember that the whole grains you purchase from your local grocery will need to be soaked overnight and then cooked over low heat for an hour or so to be ready to used in preparing breads and other dishes. While this preparation time might seem long, you can prepare a batch for the week and store it in a tupperware container to use whenever you need it.

As we enter into a season where we’ll be able to enjoy tomatoes and parsley grown closer to home, I thought of the following simple lunchtime salad recipe which is also a very satisfying accompaniment.

Dinkel & Tomato Salad
(Serves 4)

4 dl or 2 cups whole dinkel, soaked and cooked
4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Parsley for garnishing
150 g  or 5 oz feta cheese
For the dressing:
1 dl or 1/2 cup rapeseed or olive oil
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
4 tbsps water
Pinch of salt and pepper

Combine the prepared dinkel, tomatoes and chopped parsley in a mixing bowl. Combine the dressing ingredients in a clean, empty jar with a lid. Screw on the lid tightly and shake so that the dressing blends smoothly. Pour the dressing over the dinkel mixture. Place the dinkel mixture on a serving dish, crumble over the feta cheese and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!

Baka med Spelt

If you can read Swedish and have been looking for the ultimate dinkel recipe book you can now order Gotland Dinkelcentrum’s book by Icelandic Sophia Bövarsdottir which provides 87 pages of dinkel recipes! Let me know if you can find a good English equivalent that I can recommend.

Oct
05
2009
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Pollock or Saithe in a tomato bath

Which fish?

Which fish?

In my household we love to eat fish. The problem is that there is one issue or another with buying most of the fish commonly sold in my supermarket. Cod presents a sustainability problem. The farmed salmon has got various health and sustainability issues attached to it. But then there is the Saithe or European Pollock which is a superb alternative since it is sustainable, safe and enjoyable if you find the right way to prepare it. Saithe has quite a firm meat so is easy to handle in cooking. My past experiences of consuming Saithe is that it had a rather fishy flavor which I didn’t like. However, the following recipe which I came up with at the spur of the moment surprised and delighted everyone in the family.

Pollock or Saithe in a Tomato Bath
Serves 4

2 large fillets of Saithe or Pollock
white flour for dipping the fish in
1 egg, beaten for dipping the fish in
4 tablespoons canola or olive oil
2 cloves garlic
500 grams or 18 oz. crushed tomatoes
dried or fresh chopped herbs of your choice
thinly sliced cheese such as gouda or other to melt over the fish
salt & pepper to taste

Rinse the fish fillets and pat dry. Heat the cooking oil in a pan over medium heat. Dip the fillets into the egg first and then into the flour which should have a pinch of salt and pepper blended into it. Place in the pan, crush garlic on top and brown on both sides. Lower heat and spoon the crushed tomatoes around the edges of the fish. Sprinkle over the herbs. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Add cheese slices on top of the fish and cover once again, cooking for a further 5 minutes when the cheese will have just melted over the fish. Serve with a salad and some whole grain bread.

Check The Nordic Wellbeing Guide to Responsible Eating and our new rating system in The Nordic Wellbeing Cookbook for more about sustainable eating!

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