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Kamut (Recipe: warm salad of kamut, cranberries and feta) {vegetarian}


Thanks to a recent pantry-shopping challenge from fellow food blogger TW Barritt of Culinary Types, I've fallen in love with Kamut®.

Here are ten things I know about this grain (you'll be glad to know them, too):

  1. Related to both durum wheat and spelt, Kamut is pronounced kuh MOOT, which rhymes with Smoot and snoot, though it's not the least bit snooty.
  2. According to the Kamut Association of North America, in 1949 an American airman in Portugal received 36 kernels of giant wheat from a friend who claimed to have taken them from a stone box in a tomb in Egypt. He mailed them to his father, a Montana wheat farmer, who grew a small crop, dubbed it "King Tut's Wheat", and sold the grain as a novelty at a local fair. A few farmers tried to grow it, but by the late 1960s the novelty wore off, and this hard-to-grow wheat was all but forgotten. In 1977, T. Mack Quinn, another Montana wheat farmer, discovered one remaining jar of seeds and with his son, Bob, a plant biochemist, spent the next decade propagating those original kernels. They trademarked the cultivar in 1990 and named it Kamut®, an ancient Egyptian word meaning "soul of the Earth".
  3. It tastes like wheat -- a buttery and nutty wheat. Think of a piece of whole wheat bread slathered with sweet butter, and you'll get the idea. Dishes made with Kamut often require less sugar to balance the flavor than those made with other grains.
  4. Kamut kernels are elongated and nearly twice the size of conventional wheat kernels, requiring more time to soften than other durum wheat, so Kamut is perfect for recipes made in the slow cooker or pressure cooker. I use my rice cooker, which cooks one cup of Kamut in 20 minutes.
  5. You can purchase Kamut in several different forms in addition to kernels. Bob's Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills are two widely-distributed brands of Kamut flour (I find both at Job Lot, Rhode Island's favorite super-discount store). Eden Foods sells Kamut flakes; DiCecco makes Kamut pasta.
  6. Speaking of which, Kamut pasta has earned the Low Glycemic Seal of Approval from the Glycemic Research Institute.
  7. Kamut is a low-yield crop that thrives only in Montana and North Dakota, and in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Kamut dislikes both humidity and soil rich in nutrients, yet the grain itself is packed with nutrients -- 40 percent higher in protein, and with more vitamins, than other wheat varieties.
  8. Because its protein is easier to digest, many people with sensitivity to wheat find that they can eat Kamut. (Please check with your doctor if you have allergies or sensitivities to wheat. Kamut does contain gluten.)
  9. Like all grains, Kamut might turn rancid if not stored properly. Transfer it to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, and keep it in a dark part of your pantry, or in the freezer. Replace after three months if stored at room temperature, after six months if frozen.
  10. Substitute Kamut for barley, fregola sarda, couscous, orzo or rice. Try it in pilafs, soups, or chili. How about oven-baked zucchini filled with kamut, olives, thyme and parsley? Or wilted spinach salad with kamut and vegetables? Or a salad with orange, sun-dried tomatoes and chile? Or kamut, lentil and chickpea soup? Or a hearty breakfast of cream of kamut cereal?


Warm salad of Kamut, cranberries and feta

A sweet-tart salad with "tooth", this is a great side dish for a Friday night roast chicken or grilled lamb, or perfect for a picnic or potluck. And, as pomegranates are an aphrodisiac, this might be a good dish to try on Valentine's Day. Serves 6.


1 cup Kamut®
4 cups water
3 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp agave nectar
4 Tbsp olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1 cup dried cranberries (or dried cherries)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled


Measure, then rinse, the Kamut. Place in a rice cooker with 4 cups of water, and set to cook. Or, place in a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, checking frequently, until it tastes chewy but cooked all the way through.

While the grain is cooking, combine the pomegranate molasses, agave and olive oil in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add salt and pepper to taste. Shake the jar to emulsify the dressing, and set aside.

When the Kamut is cooked (it will be chewy, not mushy), drain and add it to a mixing bowl with the cucumber, cranberries, and dressing. Toss well to combine. At the last moment before serving, add the cheese, toss lightly, and serve.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Mixed grain salad
Fregula sarda with leeks and sausage
Curried chicken orzo salad
Quinoa salad with tomato, feta and parsley
Mushroom-barley soup

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

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Lydia I love kamut, just hate the cooking time - it takes me 2 hours to cook my kamut!! My organic store offers the grains and usually will mill all grains into flour. I wanted them to mill kamut for me but they were not too keen as they said it was far too hard and were afraid that it will ruin their mill!
It's still not a very popular type of grain here in Germany probably because it takes so long to cook but I find it really is a great alternative.

I love kamut and don't use it nearly enough--thanks for the little nudge! And your description of its taste is just perfect. I bet this salsd tastes amazing!

Kamut was new to me. At first I thought 'interesting - I'll have to try it'. Then I thought "do I really need another carb to love". Lastly, 2 hours to cook? I'm thinking 'not so much'. :)

I bought kamut for the first time last week, and now you've inspired me to try it out immediately! I love wheat berries, so I can only imagine that I'll develop a new obsession for kamut.

Mystery solved! I knew you could do it! And, I think it's fascinating that, like Grains of Paradise, this is another marketing marvel of sorts! I made a broth of mushrooms, saffron and kamut with my purchase. I wasn't sure if I had the "doneness" completely right, but they did plump up very nicely.

I love grain salads. I have never tried Kamut, but I will now. You had me hooked at buttery and nutty! My grocery store has a nice selection of Bob's Red Mill stuff, so I'll have to see if I can find it.

Isn't it funny how the Job Lots Stores carry the best selection of Bob's Redmill products at the best price!? My theory is that they can't afford the shelf space in the big mainstream grocery stores. It is a shame.
anyway thanks for this new food "discovery"

I've never heard of this but...buttery wheat toast is something i can get behind... i'll see if I can find it! :)

Grain salads are wondefully filling. This sounds like a very yummy version.

I love kamut too! I find if I soak the berries over night in the fridge it doesn't take as long to cook. I've thought of sprouting some but never got around to it...

Marvelous salad - feta & cranberries - and then the buttery kamut! Sounds lovely. This I know I can find.

Ooh, I haven't tried this one! (haven't even picked it up on a trip to the city..)
Sounds really good, definitely trying to add more whole grains to the diet.
Thanks for the kamut lesson!

I've never had kamut before, but I love the sound of it (and the salad)! I'll have to see if I can find some by me this weekend.

Lydia-I'm going to try your version of Kamut and cranberry/feta salad. What I do is boil water,turn it off and soak the Kamut in that, the kamut will swell up by the time the water cools. You can either cook it or store it. This works well in the hot summers here (I make this salad often during the summer). I do the soaking thing at night and then just put them in the frig and make the salad later since once you soak usually takes no longer then rice.
I will also combine kamut with wheatberries soaking and cooking both and make a bread with them - I would say that I easily go through about 1-2 pounds a year.

I have never tried kamut, but want to as I know it's wonderful as a grain salad. Cranberry & feta sound perfect together, even though I have no idea what kamut tastes like, I imagine a bit nutty?

I love the sound of this. Never really knew what it was, and didn't know it was low-glycemic either! I have a feeling I'm really going to like it. Will look for some!

Everyone: thanks to CC and Kim for their good suggestion of pre-soaking the Kamut to reduce the cooking time (just like we do with beans). I'm going to try that for my next batch.

Dawn and others: yes, the flavor is a bit nutty and sweet, which makes it perfect for salads, especially with a tart dressing or dried fruit as a foil for the naturally "sweet" grain.

I've also had a question about how the taste compares with wheat berries. Can anyone answer this?

Found in a tomb! How interesting!

That salad looks good! I have been enjoying whole grain salads lately. I will have to look for some Kamut.

That is an ingredient I have never heard - Lydia, I am always learning new things here, darling!

This is Reem from Egypt.Kamut is one of food widely known & loved in the south of Egypt.It has a nutty flavor and it sure takes long time to cook and what's really interesting that not all the kamut is good kamut "said a southern Egyptian old man"

He also says that only southern Egyptians can perfectly cook kamut.Anyways I live in the north and I cook kamut but I admit that people in upper Egypt cook it much better :)

I'll be glad to share some of our Egyptian kamut recipes

To me Kamut is nuttier and wheat berries to me are more like hulled barley and I tend to use them interchangeably. Also I usually will use wheat berries with something else and never alone, where as Kamut I will use by itself. I also like the "chew" texture of Kamut better then that of wheat berries.
Wheat berries I put with more savory things and Kamut with sweet/tart things

I've got kamut in my pantry and have had no clue what to do with it!

I tried it today, thanks for the recipe Lydia- It really made my salad delicious.

Your kamut dish looks so appetizing! I love evrything with Kamut, even Kamut bread! MMMMMMMM...

Pressure cook Kamut to save time on steaming/cooking the grain or put it in a rice cooker.

Today (well, I started cooking it last night and ended up with 5 cups of cooked Kamut), I finished two different Kamut cold salads..one, a mexican twist with black beans, cilantro, spicy corn, red bell pepper, celery, red onion, balsamic vinegar and olive oil...The other a mediterranean style with black olives, fresh parsley, red bell pepper, celery, red onions, feta cheese and red wine vinegar and olive oil. WOW! Lotta chopping, BUT, OH! they are delicious...and then our dinner invitation was unexpectedly cancelled!

Betsy, both of your variations sound fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

I used Kamut for the first time today. I substituted it for rice in a chicken casserole and it was wonderful!!! I made enough that I'll be able to eat Kamut for my breakfast cereal with blueberries. I look forward to cooking with it on a regular basis.

Kamut is my favorite grain!
Just thought I'd put that out there:)
and If any of you are Washingtonians, the co-op in mount vernon makes this salad and its is delish!

Can this be made with something other than pomegranate molasses and agave nectar? I don't have either, and don't have time to hit the stores scouring for the pomegranate molasses. But dying to try this salad. How can you go wrong with dried cranberries and feta cheese?

Debbie, it won't be the same, of course, but you could substitute cranberry juice, boiled down to 1/4 its original volume, for the pomegranate molasses, and honey for the agave.

Delicious recipe. Cooked Bob's Red Mill Kamut for about half hour after overnight soak. Added avocado--no cucumber.

Made dressing with olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, and red raspberry sauce that was around. Delicious. Served along with canned red sockeye salmon. What could be bad? Thanks so much!

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