Bravo for tomatoes, beans and kale. But what’s next for the ardent home gardener? Wheats, including farro, spelt and kamut, are surprisingly easy and very rewarding backyard crops. They can be planted as early as the ground can be worked in spring and harvested mid-summer to make room for fall crops. These ancient food sources can be milled for flour, sprouted or eaten as whole grains to retain their natural amino acids, fibre, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics, among other benefits.
In addition to wheat, there are also heirloom cultivars of barley and oats that offer an abundant way for gardeners to harvest fibre, protein and carbohydrates. Buckwheat makes an excellent grain substitute and attracts many beneficial insects. Seeds like soybeans, flax, amaranth, quinoa and Styrian pumpkin are very high in protein and there are many beautiful types that are easy to grow. Expert gardener Dan Jason provides gardening advice and recommends varieties that are adapted to Canadian conditions.
Once the harvest is in, it’s time to celebrate with Michele Genest’s fifty vibrant vegetarian recipes featuring the garden’s bounty. Ranging from the simple (Pumpkin Seed Butter Cookies) to the sophisticated (Beet and Triticale Gnocchi with Kale Pesto), the recipes in this exciting garden-to-kitchen volume will inspire readers to expand their horizons when it comes to growing and cooking grains and seeds.
This rich, attractive growing guide and cookbook brings together the expertise of Jason (The Power of Pulses), founder of the mail-order seed company Salt Spring Seeds, and culinary columnist Genest (The Boreal Feast). In the first chapter, Jason outlines the health benefits of ancient grains for people and the planet. He devotes subsequent chapters to each of the featured grains: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, flaxseed, styrian pumpkin seeds, quinoa, soybeans, and wheat. He outlines the history of each grain along with nutritional values, seed varieties, growing and harvesting advice, and some simple tips for preparation. Amaranth, for instance, can be cooked as a cereal or popped like popcorn. The second half of the book is Genest's contribution, consisting of 50 vegetarian recipes using these grains. Not surprisingly, there are breakfast items such as whole grain granola and morning glory quinoa muffins, but from there she launches into more adventurous territory for appetizers (sikil p'ak, a Mexican vegetable dip featuring pumpkin seeds), soups (lime-scented green pea, coconut milk, and wheat berry soup), salads and main dishes (barley and morel mushroom risotto), breads, flatbreads, and crackers (triticale pumpernickel sourdough), and desserts (chocolate soybean turinois). Together, the authors make a persuasive case for cooking with ancient grains.