Chef Jordan Cox’s fresh take on how to use grains in salads and desserts

, Bon Appétit
By Jordan Cox
The Peninsula Club’s Executive Sous Chef

Grains have been around in the culinary world since the beginning of time. Different cultures grew a variety of grains that had a huge impact in their cuisines’ development. Farro, barley, bulgar wheat, sorghum are just the tip of the iceberg. The best part is that they are versatile and used in many different ways. Spicing up a risotto dish and replacing rice with farro is fantastic! One of the garnishes I use a lot of at the Peninsula Club is sorghum, popping it to look like mini popcorn. You can flavor it however you want, and it’s a fantastic addition to salads, desserts, or small snacks.

A basic cooking technique for grains is simmering them in water until tender. They tend to take a little long to cook because they usually come in a dry form. The best part is that it is extremely hard to overcook them, which is helpful if you’ve never worked with grains. Don’t feel intimidated reaching for a grain you’ve never heard of! That’s the beauty of cooking; you’re experimenting and trying new things.

Grains can be purchased at almost any neighborhood grocery store or even online. Also, look for local mills that are growing them properly. I source a lot of my grains from Anson Mills in Columbia, SC. Its products are above and beyond anything you’re going to find at a local store. You might pay extra but it is worth every penny. Lastly, have fun with it!

 

Farro Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried farro
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • 3 chopped green onions
  • 1 Swiss chard (dice stems, finely shred leaves)
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • ½ cup diced cucumber
  • ½ cup Champagne vinaigrette

 

Champagne Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup Champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¾ cup Canola oil

 

Procedure for vinaigrette

  • Blend all ingredients together except oil.
  • As the ingredients are blending, slowly drizzle in oil until emulsified.

 

Building the salad

  • Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, add the farro, and cook until tender. Roughly 10 minutes should do the trick. Remove from liquid and cool completely.
  • Combine remaining ingredients, except the feta. Let rest for 3 hours. Letting rest should allow the farro to absorb the vinaigrette and other flavors from the other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  • Right before serving, toss the feta cheese in the salad. Enjoy!

 

Caramel Sorghum

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sorghum seed
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Procedure

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  • In a sauce pan, pop the sorghum like popcorn. (Yes, it will look like mini popcorn.)
  • In a separate sauce pan, bring the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt to a boil. Stir constantly, making sure not to scorch or burn.
  • After boiling for 5 minutes, remove the sauce from heat and add vanilla and baking soda. Be very careful not to burn yourself.
  • Pour over sorghum and mix thoroughly.
  • Once mixed together lay on a parchment-paper-lined tray and bake in oven for 45 minutes.
  • Cool and break apart.

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