Found this among my drafts. It’s from mid 2014 and I never posted it because I didn’t have a photo. It was delicious, though, and if you’re in the northern hemisphere it’s probably just about the right season for you to eat something like this. Definitely not the weather for it here and now! Oh well.
This was an experimental meal that worked out so well I thought I’d record it here.
The purple sprouting broccoli is bursting out all over the place in the garden, and needed eating before it started to flower, so I made this up based on a combination of recipes I found online.
For starters, broccoli and blue cheese is a classic flavour combo, but I only had a little knob of blue cheese left in the fridge, so I mixed it up with some other cheeses. Then, there are all kinds of broccoli-and-cheese soups and pastas and casseroles, but none with the whole grains I was craving, so I decided to use whole grain wheat berries instead of the potatoes or pasta that most of the other recipes used.
Start by soaking 1.5 cups of dry wheat berries for a while (I left mine a couple of hours, having got the idea for this mid-afternoon) then cooking them in 3.75 cups of water using the absorption method, such as in a rice cooker, or in a pot of boiling water on the stove (in which case strain them after they’re cooked). This will probably take about 40 minutes which is ample time to get the other stuff sorted out. I did it at a leisurely pace while puttering around and drinking cheap shiraz, so realistically if you’re on the ball all the other prep will take about 20-30 minutes.
While your wheat berries are cooking, prepare these ingredients:
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tblsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 2 tblsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 small kohlrabi, grated (optional)
(I had kohlrabi that needed using. Don’t bother buying it if you don’t have it. But if you want to put more vegies in here, you can do it at this stage — zucchini would be an ok choice too, or any other kind of greens, or corn kernels, or mushrooms. Honestly I’m now wishing I’d put corn in mine. Damn.)
Saute the onion until golden-heading-towards-brown. Add the garlic, and saute a further minute or so, then add the herbs and any vegies that could do with having their water reduced a bit (in my case kohlrabi, but zucchini would also go here), and continue cooking a couple of minutes until it smells great. Set aside.
Now grate your cheese. I used approx:
- 1.5 cup grated cheddar cheese (NOT the weird orange kind, what is with that, North Americans?)
- 1/2 cup grated smoked cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
You’re aiming for about 2-3 cups total. If you don’t like blue cheese you can skip it. On the other hand, you could probably double the blue cheese if you really liked the flavour. All kinds of cheeses could work here to be honest — don’t sweat it too much, just use whatever you have, even just plain cheddar. You could go a bit lighter if you wanted, too. It’s flexible! Just grate any hard cheeses and crumble/dice any softer ones.
Mix all the grated hard cheeses together, and put about a cup of them aside for later.
Now make a white sauce:
- 2 tblsp butter
- 2 tblsp flour
- 500 mL milk
In a medium-to-large saucepan, melt the butter then mix the flour into it to form a roux. Cook over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes, then start adding the milk a little at a time, incorporating it fully before adding more. As it becomes liquid you can add the milk faster. Once all the milk is added, turn the heat up to medium-hot and keep stirring until the sauce almost comes to a simmer and thickens up. It’s ready when it coats the back of the spoon or the sides of the saucepan.
Now add your cheese — everything except the cup of hard cheeses you set aside earlier — a handful at a time and stir in thoroughly.
Next, toss in the sauted onions, garlic, herbs and vegies from the pan, and stir them through, along with:
- 3-4 cups broccoli, chopped (smaller than florets – mine were about an inch in their largest dimension)
- your cooked wheat berries
- a few grinds of pepper, to taste
Grease a baking pan and dump the wheat berry mix into it. Now make the topping:
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko, but plain breadcrumbs would also be fine)
- 1 cup grated hard cheese that you set aside earlier
- a drizzle of oil
Toss them together, then spread them across the top of the wheat berry mix.
Bake at 180C until deliciously brown on top — about 30 minutes in my oven.
Serve with a salad, unless it’s pissing rain outside and you can’t be bothered going out to hunt lettuce in the dark, in which case promise yourself you’ll have a piece of fruit afterwards. Ahem.