Rye Berries, and Walnuts, and Pears…Oh, my!

I can hear my mother now. Who are you and what did you do with my son? This is just yet another thing that I have discovered in my quest to learn and discover more about food and it’s all thanks to Dandelion & Quince.

In it there is a recipe for Rye Berries, Chicory, Pear and Walnuts. The revelation was in the preparation of the rye berries. 

I should back up some and explain that my husband wanted to work whole grains into his diet and bought about 6 different kinds. He would cook them rater simply in the slow cooker and then just have them for breakfast with some dried fruit and nuts. During this time I kept thinking how much I wish I understood how to prepare whole grains in a more interesting way to bring the quality and style of his breakfast up to how the rest of our meals are.

So when I found recipes for rye berries, farro, freekeh and other interesting grains in this cookbook I was intrigued. The first recipe I tried was this one. What caught my interest was that you toast the rye berries for 5 minutes in a dry pan. Then you rinse them with cold water. Then you put them back in the pan covered with water, off any heat, and let sit over night. You then drain them, cover them with water again and cook them for 45 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. This process transforms the rye berries into this sweet, nutty flavor and this intense caramel color.

After making this recipe true to the book the first time I then started playing with it. Originally it is served on a small amount of radicchio. If I have radicchio I will still serve it on that but it doesn’t need it to be tasty.

She has you make a dressing of honey, dijon, and sherry vinegar that you add to the rye berries. It make this creamy coating that helps marry the flavors. My husband and I thought that it still needed something even creamier but I wasn’t sure what and then it hit me. A poached egg. You can often find poached eggs on salads. They are a great way to “dress” a salad without any salad dressing. To round it out and offer even more saltiness since the pears, shallots, and thyme added to the sweetness we also added a tiny amount of parmesan cheese.

In the end we came up with a rye berry mixture that holds up amazingly well in the fridge. It works as a lunch or a breakfast and the complexity of flavor is something that even get me wanting to have it when my husband’s not here. Another thing about a lunch like this is that I can bake a big batch of it and it goes together really quickly at lunch time. So on weeks like the one coming up, this will make a perfect lunch while I do all my thanksgiving prep. One less thing to worry about.

I should note that in the original recipe she calls for thinly sliced fresh pears on this dish. I changed it up and diced them, sautéed them, and folded them into the rye berry mixture.

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