Rye is tolerant of cold and damp, making it the perfect grain for Northern Europe and Russia, where it features prominently in bread and beer.
Sturdy and very chewy with a rich, tangy flavour, rye berries make an excellent substitute for brown rice. They also can be sprouted and added to salads, breads and other dishes. For the shortest cooking time and best results, cover 1 cup of rye berries with 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and let the grains soak overnight. When you are ready to cook, turn on the heat and simmer, covered, for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the kernels just begin to pop.
Rye berries also can be cooked in a large pot of boiling, salted water, like pasta, and drained when they are done, but they still must be soaked overnight.
Regardless of cooking method, Maria Speck, author of “Simply Ancient Grains,” advises letting the fully cooked grains stand in the covered pot for 10 minutes before serving to absorb any remaining moisture.
CREAMY RYE BERRY AND GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE WITH LEMON CRUMBS
Start to finish: 45 minutes
- 12 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 7 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 cups cooked rye berries
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- Zest of 2 lemons
Heat the oven to 400 F. Coat a large casserole dish (such as a 9-by-9-inch baking dish) with cooking spray.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a bowl. Fill a medium bowl with ice water and set it nearby. When the water is boiling, add the green beans and blanch for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them from the boiling water to the ice water. After 2 minutes, drain the green beans and spread on a kitchen towel to dry.
Drain the water from the saucepan and return it to the heat. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat, then add the garlic. Stir and cook for 3 minutes, or until the garlic is just tender. Add the flour and stir to moisten completely. While whisking continuously to keep the mixture smooth, add the milk a little at a time until it is incorporated. Whisk continuously, making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan, until the mixture comes to a simmer for 3 to 4 minutes and thickens.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce, mascarpone cheese, paprika and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the cooked rye berries and blanched green beans. Spoon into the prepared casserole dish.
In a large skillet over medium, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the breadcrumbs and stir while cooking until lightly toasted, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle evenly over the top of the casserole. Bake for 15 minutes, or until everything is bubbling and hot.
Nutrition information per serving: 500 calories; 220 calories from fat (44 per cent of total calories); 25 g fat (14 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 65 mg cholesterol; 230 mg sodium; 56 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 15 g protein.
(Recipe from Alison Ladman)