What the heck is ‘Grünkern’? It’s basically spelt that has been harvested while still unripe – therefore its green (‘grün’ in German) colour. It’s quite popular among vegans and vegetarians in Germany since its texture makes it perfect for replacing ground meat in burgers, chilli or pasta sauces – just like this bolognese inspired vegan pasta sauce. It’s also a good alternative if you are allergic to soy protein and therefore can’t use the most commonly sold soy based meatless alternatives to ground beef. It also brings a nice hearty flavour to every dish, so you will need less spices – especially salt – than usually. Call me weird, but its taste and smell kind of remind me of smoked bacon – though it has been years since I last ate smoked bacon, so my taste-memory might not be the best. If you search for Grünkern on your next shopping trip, try whole food stores – that’s where you would also find it in Germany. It may also be sold as ‘unripe spelt grain’, though it is usually sold under it’s German name. If you find it – give it a try! Continue reading
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Have you ever tried millet? It’s a not very popular – though delicious – grain, that is believed to be one of the oldest cultivated crops in history. There are many different kinds of millet, the most common one being pearl millet, which is also the one I used for this dish. You can use millet just like rice or quinoa, though if you use it for the first time, always check the packaging instructions! Millet is also gluten-free, so you can use it as a tasty substitute for wheat products such as couscous or bulgur. In whole food stores, you might even find pasta or bread made from or with millets!
After using millets in several sweet dishes (like a lovely millet porridge), I wanted to give it a try in a savoury dish as well, but I didn’t want to overpower its delicious flavour with heavy sauces or spices, so I went for a zingy, fresh and just slightly hot salad with crisp pointed peppers (ball peppers will work as well) and cherry tomatoes. If you can’t find millet in your local stores, try bulgur instead – this will work just as well. Of course it won’t be gluten-free anymore! Continue reading
The holidays are approaching fast, and therefore it’s time to start with the first preparations! My mom got remarried in the summer, and this year we will celebrate the holidays in a big patchwork-family fashion – which makes dinner planning slightly more difficult than usual. While most members of my patchwork-family insist on having a roast on Christmas Eve (the current plans involve rabbit roast), my stepsister and I don’t eat meat, and my mom started to worry about what so serve us as meat-free alternative. And by ‘worry’ I mean she started pestering me with increasingly urgent sounding e-mails asking for recipes. So I went on a little ‘holiday appropriate meat alternative invention’-trail, and tried out different types of dishes – with varying results. The vegan roast I tried to prepare came out kind of dry and crumbly, though that might be due to my probably-older-than-me stove. So, I changed tactics and went for pan-fried meat substitutes, and this recipe is the final result! The main ingredients are brown rice, rolled oats and mushrooms, which combine to a deliciously savoury flavour. You can also use quinoa or other grains instead of rice, I just went for the most common one to keep holiday shopping easier. Continue reading