After I mentioned this combination last week, I made it again for family this weekend, and decided that I am officially obsessed with this combination. Which means that I really need to share the recipe with you.

First, I should confess that I’m not a huge basil lover. It’s a bit licoricey for me, but we have a crazy amount of it in the garden this year, so clearly it’s time I started liking it. And then this recipe was born. Very easy, only a few ingredients, and a nice way to get started with some whole grains if you haven’t already. It’s delicious as a vegetarian entree, or a side dish. You could add some sausage or bacon if you were so inclined. I made it with emmer (also called farro) first, then with wheat berries, and am confident that barley, spelt, or rye would also be delicious. Clearly I’ll have to do some taste-testing. Yes . . .

(Also, it may seem like a 1/2 cup of grain is not a lot, but grains expand a lot as they cook, and they are super densely packed with goodness – a small serving goes a long way! This should comfortably serve 2 as an entree or 4 as a side dish).

Emmer with Basil Cream Sauce

1/2 cup whole grains (emmer, wheat berries, spelt, etc)

2 cups water

salt to taste

1/2 cup basil leaves

1-2 leeks (onions work well if you have no leeks)

1 cup cream

In a saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil and add your grains. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 20-40 minutes, or until just tender. (If you pre-soak your grains the night before, you can reduce your cooking time.)

While your grains are cooking, finely slice the white and tender green part of your leeks, and rinse in a strainer under running water to remove any grit. Start sauteing the leeks in 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat, until they are meltingly tender.

Add the heavy cream, and just barely simmer the cream to allow it to thicken a bit. Salt your sauce to taste, add cracked pepper if desired. By now, your grains should be cooked, and you can drain off any excess water. Salt grains to taste. Once the grains are ready, finely chop the basil leaves, stir them into your sauce, and turn off the heat.

Serve with sauce poured on top of the grains, or serve in separate dishes and allow your dinner companions to combine them as desired.

Bon Appetit!

(P.S. Thank you for your kind words about Monday Night Menus – I’ll have to bring them back! Suffice to say that this week I’ll be making this and this and this – yum! Oh, how the crisp fall air makes being in the kitchen a joy.)