Whole Rye Salad with Bourboned Currants and Caraway

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • A Healthy Supper for

    2–3

    (With A Dash of Hidden Naughtiness)

Appears in

Rye is the mysterious dark horseman of the grain world. Like wheat berries, rye berries are a bit of a pain to cook: you need to soak them overnight, but they are worth it: rich and nutty and so healthy. Rye is super-high in fibre and low in gluten, so it is a good friend to the perennial dieter.

Useless grain facts: Rye was not always valued as a foodstuff – in fact, Pliny reckoned that it was a ‘very poor food and only serves to avert starvation’. And one’s normally carb-loving beau has actually spat it out on the few occasions I have tried to feed him rye bread. However, it became highly prized in Scandinavia and northeastern Europe as it is extremely hardy and thrives in poor soil.

Ingredients

  • 150 g/ oz rye berries (i.e. whole rye grains), soaked overnight in about 500 ml/18 fl oz. generous 2 cups acidulated cold water*
  • 75 g/ oz/½ cup currants
  • 3 tbsp.Southern Comfort (or other sweet bourbon)**
  • 200 g/7 oz sweet potato, peeled and cubed (1.5 cm/ in.cubes are good)
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • tsp caraway seeds
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice of ½ orange
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 75 g/ oz/ cup pumpkin seed kernels
  • 50 g/ oz rocket (arugula)

Method

Cook the rye in its soaking water: keep an eye on the liquid levels and top up with cold water if necessary. The berries should take around an hour to cook: you want them done but still with some bite to them. Refresh under cold water and leave to drain.

While the rye is cooking, set the currants to soak in the Southern Comfort. Next, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Spread the sweet potato, carrots and onion out on an oven tray, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with the caraway seeds and seasoning, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the veg are just tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

When you are ready to serve, drain the currants, retaining the liquor. Whisk the olive oil with the fruit juices and the remaining Southern Comfort, and season to taste. Place the grain and oven-roasted veg in a bowl, then stir in the currants, pumpkin seed kernels and rocket. Drizzle with the boozy dressing and enjoy.

* Notes

* In this case, just add 3 tablespoons plain yogurt or lemon juice to the water and stir. You could substitute the more readily available wheat berries – these also respond well to soaking in acidulated water.

** Don’t want to use alcohol? Just use water to soak the raisins, and add 1½ tablespoons apple vinegar to the dressing instead.