Merry Christmas and happy holidays. I am currently writing on my laptop lying next to the fireplace, and the Christmas tree, at my parents house, listening to a Christmas jazz album. My mother is busy preparing food in the kitchen. She just made stuffing and cranberry sauce. We just finished speaking to my family in England via Skype, something we have been doing for a few years now.
Everybody has their own routine at Christmas. Different family traditions that make Christmas. This year for Christmas day, it is just my parents and me. Traditions change over the years. New traditions are made. You have to go with the flow. Do I miss Christmas the way I remember it from childhood ? Of course I do, but I am appreciating the day with my parents.
Since I never spent Christmas in Montreal growing up I never saw any friends on Christmas. I was always at my grandmother’s house in Magog. This year I am going to start a new Christmas tradition by going to visit a few of my close friends and their families who live nearby.
This spelt salad was part of last night’s Christmas eve dinner, celebrated with family, and is probably what I am going to have for lunch. It is great as a side dish or as a meal on its own. The bulk of the nutrition coming form the spelt and the garbanzo beans, or chickpeas as most of us call them. The salad also contains roasted pine nuts, fresh mint, basil and parsley, sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. The proportions can be adjusted to your taste. I have given approximate proportions for the different ingredients, but feel free to do what feels and tastes good to you.
Unfortunately, spelt is not a common grain/ingredient in most of our kitchens. It isn’t something I had ever used or even heard of before I started to shift to a more whole food diet. I think both my mother and father were a little skeptical when I said I was going to make a spelt salad as part of the Christmas eve dinner. My dad is British and loves his potatoes, but he agreed to let me make it. “Don’t worry Dad, we will have roast potatoes tonight”. The dish actually looks very Christmasy because of the red tomatoes and green herbs and zuchinni.
Turns out both my parents loved the spelt salad. My mom is still raving about it. When you cook spelt it plumps up and becomes a little kernel of nutty deliciousness. Great for salads just like this one. Other grain options are whole wheat berries and kamut.
Did any of you create anything new in the kitchen for Christmas this year? Would love to hear about them, whether they turned out great or not.
Spelt & Garbanzo Salad with Tomatoes, Pine Nuts and Fresh Herbs
Serves 3 for lunch; 6 as a side dish at dinner
1 cup of spelt, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes, about 10-15 tomatoes
1/3 cup pine nuts, roasted
1 small zucchini, cut into a medium dice
handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
handful fresh basil leaves, hand torn
big handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters
1 cup cooked chickpeas, (1/2 540 ml can)
juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
3 tablespoons of olive oil, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, cover the spelt with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 40 minutes or until cooked but still slightly firm.
To roast pine nuts without burning them, preheat the oven to 400F. Lay the pine nuts out on a cookie sheet and roast for 4 minutes. Set a timer or else you will forget about them and they will burn in a hurry.
Once the spelt is cooked set it aside and let cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer the spelt to a large bowl and combine all the rest of the ingredients into the bowl. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.
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