Mediterranean Mussels with Farro and White Wine, Bulgur with Butter-Roasted Almonds, and a Giveaway for Ancient Grains for Modern Meals (Podcast #153)

If recipes with names like Wheat Berry Fools, Mediterranean Mussels with Farro and White Wine, and Bulgur with Butter-Roasted Almonds and Cinnamon pique your culinary interest, you’ll definitely want to sink your teeth into Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. This cookbook — which features recipes for nutrient-rich farro, barley, quinoa, wheat berries, and other whole grains — is by far one of our new favorites.  On this week’s Cooking with the Moms, we feature our recent lunch interview with author Maria Speck and share a few of the amazing recipes from her new cookbook.

Plump and chewy farro stars in this summer-inspired recipe for Mediterranean Mussels with Farro and White Wine. In the United States, the type of farro that’s typically sold is of the emmer variety, first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent almost ten thousand years ago. We like to use semi-pearled farro because it cooks up quickly in just 20 to 25 minutes.

Maria treated us to a lunch of Mediterranean mussels!

Mediterranean Mussels with Farro and White Wine

Serves 3 or 4 as a Light Main Course, or 4 to 6 as a Starter

For the Farro

  • 1½ cups water
  • 3/4 cup farro
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 whole peppercorns
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

For the Stew

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels in their shells
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1 small)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots (about 2 small)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery stalks (1 to 2 pieces)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • 1½ cups chopped fresh or diced canned tomatoes with their juices, (one 14-ounce can)
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

To finish

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. To prepare the farro, bring the water, farro, bay leaf, peppercorns, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the grain is tender but still slightly chewy, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, drain any remaining liquid, and set aside.

2. While the farro simmers, rinse the mussels under cold running water, brushing to remove sand and residue on the shells. Remove the beards (hairy clumps around the shell) with tweezers or a sharp knife. Discard chipped mussels. Tap any open mussels and discard if they don’t close. Set the cleaned mussels aside.

3. To make the stew, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the rosemary, the bay leaves, chile, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add 1/4 cup of the white wine, and cook until syrupy and the liquid is almost gone, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the water, the remaining 1 1/4 cups white wine, the pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, at a lively simmer until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar.

4. Add the mussels and the farro together with the remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and steam over medium to medium-high heat, shaking the pot once or twice in between, until the mussels open, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and discard any unopened mussels.

5. To finish, add the lemon juice. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust. Drizzle the mussels with the olive oil and serve right away in deep plates, garnished with parsley and with lemon wedges on the side.

Print Recipe

Maria refers to bulgur as “the perfect ancient fast food.” It’s often associated with tabouli but also finds its way into soups, meatballs , and pilafs. Bulgur is made by boiling wheat and then drying and cracking it into various sizes. The outer bran layer is removed, so it cooks up very quickly.

Bulgur with Butter-Roasted Almonds and Cinnamon

Serves 4

  • 1¾ cups water
  • 1 cup medium-coarse bulgur
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup toasted whole almonds, skin on (we used slivered almonds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Pour the water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir in the bulgur and salt, and return to a boil. Decrease the heat to low to maintain a simmer. Cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to steam for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt.

2. While the bulgur steams, melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet or saucepan, preferably stainless steel. Cook, watching attentively, until the aroma of the butter becomes deep nutty-sweet, the color turns golden brown, and the bottom of the pan fills with brown specks, 3-5 minutes

3. Add the almonds, cinnamon, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute Add the bulgur to the skillet (it might splatter!), stir to combine and serve right away.

Print Recipe

“Recipe reprinted with permission from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.”  Book cover: Photo credit, Sara Remington © 2011

GIVEAWAY NEWS: Maria is offering one lucky blog reader/podcast listener the chance to win a copy of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, U.S. only please. The publisher sent us one copy, and we’ve had a hard time sharing (or shall we say, Liz has had a hard time sharing). We’re thinking about setting up some sort of Meal Makeover Mom “shared custody” schedule for the cookbook!

To Enter: Leave a comment here on our blog or on Facebook and tell us about your favorite grain and how you like to use it. From quinoa and millet to barley and brown rice, we can’t wait to read about your favorites grains and preparations.

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.
> “Like” Ancient Grains for Modern Meals on Facebook.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK! The giveaway ends on August 10th at noon, and as always we’ll use to pick our winner.

In Maria’s kitchen, jars of different whole grains are kept within easy reach.

Liz’s mother-in-law, Joy, joined us for lunch at Maria’s beautiful home.

What a way to end a meal: Maria treated us to Wheat Berry Fools with Grand Marnier Figs. She calls for soft wheat berries in this recipe but also suggests using leftover cooked spelt, kamut, or farro.

67 responses to “Mediterranean Mussels with Farro and White Wine, Bulgur with Butter-Roasted Almonds, and a Giveaway for Ancient Grains for Modern Meals (Podcast #153)”

  1. Miranda says:

    I like to add barley to chicken and vegetable soup, cooked in the slow cooker.

  2. Miranda says:

    I subscribe to the feed

  3. Miranda says:

    I like you on FB.

  4. Never been a big mussel fan, but the first shot definitely makes me want to try. I’m betting that was Janice shooting that & working her camera magic 😉

  5. Janice says:

    Hi Regan, you are right. Thanks for the compliment … I’m just trying to get as good as you are at food photography!

  6. Amaris N. says:

    I love black quinoa – so nutty & delicious and brings such color to meals. I make it just as I would rice – then chill and mix with fresh scallions, garbanzos, red pepper, red onion, lemon, salt and pepper & shaved parmesan cheese!

  7. Rina says:

    My favorite way to use whole grains is to make Kasha! This uses buckwheat groats. Buckwheat groats may sound not so appetizing, but trust me, it’s DELISH!!!!!!

  8. Rina says:

    I subscribe to the feed.

  9. M says:

    my favorite grains are millet and quinoa – i like to mix them with milk and cheese while they’re cooking, and stirring in balsamic or pesto at the end!

  10. Bonnie says:

    I LOVE paella… and since I no longer eat white rice I decided to make it using a whole grain. I went with Pearled Barley! You don’t miss the rice in this dish AT ALL! Even my picky kids loved it… and they never ate it when I use to make it with rice. Recipe is on my website. I love coming up with new recipes using whole grains now 🙂

  11. Julie says:

    I love to make quesadillas with brown rice, shredded cheddar cheese, and whatever leftovers I have in the fridge.

  12. Jenn L. says:

    I made a cold quinoa salad, adding shredded carrot, cucumber, black beans, diced tomatoes, and an olive oil/balsamic dressing. DELISH!!

  13. Jenn L. says:

    I subscribed to your RSS feed.

  14. Jenn L. says:

    I “Like” Ancient Grains for Modern Meals on Facebook.

  15. Amanda S. says:

    I like using Brown Rice mixed half and half with white long grain rice for my family to like it. I also love barley in beef and vegetable soup. yum! I like quinoa as well, but need to keep working on my family 🙂

  16. Amanda S. says:

    I subscribe to the RSS feed 🙂

  17. Amanda S. says:

    I “LIKE” you on facebook

  18. Amanda S. says:

    I Liked ancient grains on facebook and look forward to reading all about it!


  19. carrie says:

    brown rice is my favorite whole grain by default. i don’t have a lot of cooking experience with other whole grains. i’d love this cookbook to give me new recipes to incorporate a variety of other grains into our family meals.

  20. carrie says:

    i liked ancient grains on facebook

  21. Jennifer says:

    I LOVE quinoa

  22. Jennifer says:

    I like you on Facebook

  23. Jennifer says:

    I subscribe to your RSS feed

  24. Melissa M says:

    I love to put brown rice with chicken and carrots for us and the kids, but look forward to trying bulgur and quinoa!

  25. Melissa M says:

    liked Ancient Grains for Modern Meals on facebook

  26. anne says:

    my fav grain is red quinoa – which i use to stuff red peppers with and it is so yummy – i bake it in the oven – sprinkle cheese on top at the end

  27. anne says:

    i subscribe to ur RSS feed via email

  28. anne says:

    i like meal makeover moms on FB (anne hill)

  29. anne says:

    i like Ancient Grains for Modern Meals on FB

  30. Jennifer says:

    I have changed this salad/side dish that I used to make with couscous into a quinoa salad–It’s got quinoa, dried apricots, dried cranberries, toasted slivered almonds, garlic, green onions. My family loves it in the summer with grilled chicken =)
    This year, we joined our local co-op, and they have a great bulk section with tons of different grains. I keep stocking up there on my whole wheat flour, but haven’t been brave enough to pick up the farro or bulghur wheat. If I don’t win this book, I will definitely be buying it! (and if I do win it, I’ll buy one for a friend!)

  31. Jennifer says:

    I also “liked” Ancient Grains for Modern Meals on FB

  32. Margot says:

    I’m not sure what my favorite grain would be. I’m still in the process of learning to cook more of them. I guess right now we are really enjoying some of the wild rice blends we’ve found at our local grocery store (if rice counts).

  33. Margot says:

    I am also subscribed to your RSS feed.

  34. Margot says:

    And I like you on FB! 🙂

  35. Sandi says:

    I like to use bulghur wheat to make tabbouleh and have used farro ,quinoa and barley . After listening to the podcast I went today to a small local health food store to get some grains and the Napa olive oil they carry. To my delight I was there on Rainbow Tuesday- the first Tuesday of every month when everything is 20% off

  36. Sandi says:

    Jus liked ancient grains on

  37. Lynn says:

    I love just about anything over brown rice–especially braised greens with peanut sauce!

  38. Lynn says:

    I like you on Facebook!

  39. Lynn says:

    I subscribe to your RSS Feed

  40. Melitsa says:

    I was introduced to Bulgar wheat a long time ago when I as a child and love love love it for it’s nutty taste. Really wish it was sold in larger sizes alongside the other grains in supermarkets.

    Love its versatility of cold or hot. Usually in salads during the summer. But we use it a lot during the week as the grain part of our meal. Cooked with stock.
    Also Cous Cous is our goto quick cook grain when we’re so hungry and need our starch. I left a message on FB about Ebly that your podcast inspired me to look up

  41. Rebekah says:

    I like to cook barley like you would risotto by browning it first with butter and then adding McKays chicken seasoning broth as it absorbs until it become really luscious. Usually takes about 30 or 40 minutes.

  42. I love brown rice and my favorite way to serve it is making a taco salad with greens, olives, cheese, salsa, and a bit of sour cream.

  43. I “like” you on facebook.

  44. I like “Ancient Grains for Modern Meals” on Facebook.

  45. Amy J. says:

    I have to confess I don’t really have any recipes for using grains – which is why I really need this book! However, I only feed my family brown rice and my kids like it under sauces and chili as well as plain :D.

  46. Amy J. says:

    I’m subscribed to your RSS feed

  47. Amy J. says:

    I like you on facebook

  48. Amy J. says:

    I liked ancient grains on facebook

  49. Leigh-Ann says:

    We LOVE black rice (it actually cooks up purple so the kids think it’s fun). We generally mix it 1/2 & 1/2 with brown or wild rice so it isn’t quite so sticky.

  50. dena b says:

    I am a huge fan of grains, this book looks ideal for my type of meal prep. What a wonderful blog site.

  51. dena b says:

    subscribed to rss feed

  52. dena b says:

    tweeted giveaway

  53. dena b says:

    Liked FB

  54. dena b says:

    liked ancient Grains FB

  55. jodie says:

    I was already a fan on FB, does that count?? 🙂

    I like to make brown rice and beans – its just brown rice, black beans, onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, and chopped cilantro. YUM

  56. jodie says:

    I just “liked” Ancient Grains for Modern Meals on FB also. Great page, thanks for letting us know about it!!

  57. Laura Baker says:

    I am a fan of barley in chili.

  58. Laura Baker says:

    Like you on Facebook.

  59. Chrisse says:

    I love brown rice. Steamed and mixed with veggies. I also like it with a little A1 sauce drizzled on top 🙂

  60. Claire says:

    I love basmati rice cooked in coconut milk. YUMM! 🙂

  61. Nicole says:

    I make veggie chili by substituting bulgur for the “meat”. I use The Frog/Commissary Cookbook’s recipe which is one of my all time fave cookbooks. They are legendary in Philly food scene. I never knew there were different types/sizes of bulgur. Gotta go shop for some & make some more chili.

  62. laura says:

    I love to cook quinoa, but my kids will only eat brown rice. I just add a little butter and salt and they eat it right up.

  63. laura says:

    I already like you on facebook!

  64. laura says:

    I liked ancient grains for modern meals on facebook!

  65. Missy says:

    I liked Ancient Grains for Modern Meals on FB

  66. Missy says:

    I already like you guys on FB!

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