Vegan MoFo, Day 22: Unconventional Grains

I know, there’s no post for day 21. There will be – I hope to make it up tomorrow. This weekend has had many things, most of them wonderful but one of them heartbreaking. I’ll tell you all more about them when I have more time tomorrow. For now, let’s talk about unconventional grains – well, one specifically.

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This is triticale. Don’t worry if you find yourself wondering what the heck triticale is. We didn’t know what it was when we bought it, either. But we love whole foods, whole grains, and discovering ingredients that are new to us, so when we saw a package of triticale at our Saturday farmers market (oh, yeah, and y’all know we really love farmers markets!), we picked it up. We knew we could figure out what to do with it later.

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Well, later came today. Triticale, it turns out, is a hybrid of wheat and rye. The internet tells me it was first bred in Scotland and Germany in the late 1800s. It’s mostly grown as a “feed grain” – to be fed to nonhuman animals that other people eat (revolting) – but there’s no reason to overlook this tasty grain. It’s got a great flavor and an appealing toothsome texture. It’s also got an impressive nutritional profile: it’s high in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, thiamin, and more.

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All that and much more in this unassuming grain!

We’d been wanting to make one of our favorite soups – Italian wedding soup – for a couple of weeks now. Actually, to be completely honest, we’d planned to make it last week but it ended up getting shelved for reasons I’ve already forgotten. We decided to make a huge batch of it this afternoon because we had family coming over to celebrate Mike’s birthday.

Italian wedding soup recipes vary from cook to cook, but the constants seem to be meatballs and small pasta shapes – orzo, acini di pepe, tiny stars. What if, we thought, instead of pasta, we used an unconventional grain? And while we considered farro, one of Mike’s favorites, we knew this MoFo prompt was exactly what we needed to push us into trying triticale.

Cooking triticale takes time. You have to soak it for a few hours (or overnight) and then cook it for at least an hour, so it’s not a grain for a quick weeknight meal. But a Sunday afternoon at home, playing games with your kiddults? Absolutely.

So we did. Mike soaked it and cooked it up. Once it was fully cooked, I made the soup. After the broth, carrots, celery, garlic, and vegan meatballs had simmered for a while, I tossed in a couple of cups of the cooked triticale and lots of fresh spinach. Once the spinach was nicely wilted, it was ready to eat!

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My favorite vegan meatballs have always been Nate’s Meatless Meatballs, which are absolutely delicious. Turns out that Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs are just Nate’s repackaged under the Trader Joe’s brand!

The triticale made a wonderful, most delightful addition to this soup! The flavor and texture added unexpected dimensions. And knowing we were getting such a hefty nutritional punch with the triticale made the soup even better!

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Couldn’t get any better.

Wrapping up cast iron week, we made the soup in our wonderful enameled cast iron Dutch oven from Lodge.

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With the soup, we had ham & cheese buttermilk biscuits. This has nothing to do with unconventional grains nor with cast iron, but they’re so delicious and lovely, I just wanted to share them. I’d originally planned to make a whole wheat beer bread, but since it’s Mike’s birthweekend, and because we didn’t keep any of the biscuits I made for the bake sale last weekend, I made a batch for him this morning. We decided the rest of them would be perfect on the side of tonight’s soup, and they really were. I think our kiddults were more excited about the biscuits than the soup!

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Tomorrow morning, I’m going to warm up the leftover triticale and eat it with some almond milk and cinnamon. Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful autumn breakfast?

‘Til tomorrow, friends!

Sarra

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One thought on “Vegan MoFo, Day 22: Unconventional Grains

  1. Pingback: Vegan MoFo 2017 Week Three Roundup – VeganMoFo

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