What to do with: February 2020 Essentials

What to do with: February 2020 Essentials

Ben @ Ben to Table

Time for another month of awesome pantry building blocks -- this month, with a bit more of an Italian flare.

Here’s what’s in the box:

  • Pearled Black Barley from Maine Grains
  • Organic Fusilli from Zaccagni in Abruzzo, Italy
  • Organic Carnaroli Rice from Cordero
  • Speckled Grits from Geechie Boy Mill
  • Vaquero Beans from Rancho Gordo)
  • Dak Lak 70% Dark Chocolate from Marou in Vietnam

General Instructions

The Vaquero beans can be cooked according to the instructions in my "How to Cook: Beans" post. 

The Carnaroli and Barley can be cooked according to the instructions in my "How to Cook: Grains" post.

The Speckled Grits can be cooked according to the instructions in my "How to Cook: Grits" post. 

The fusilli can be cooked according to the instructions on the package.

Pearled Black Barley

Maine Grains Barley

Maine Grains is one of the leading producers in New England of delicious heirloom grains, committed to regenerative agriculture and actively engaged in ensuring they positively affect the community they're a part of. ⁠⁠

The nile barley itself is delicious. Great in soups, in a grain bowl or salad, or cooked and then tossed into sautéed vegetables and a protein for a complete meal.

The image above is how I made it last week: cooked into a creamy, risotto-like preparation with shrimp, baby kale, and tomatoes. ⁠Here's the step-by-step:

  1. I first cooked the barley per instructions on the bag, and did my other prep (shelling the shrimp and cutting up onions and garlic). ⁠
  2. Then sautéed onions (+ salt and some chile powder) in oil until softened, added garlic, then after a minute or so added the shrimp.
  3. After a couple minutes, I added in the still-warm barley, some baby kale, and cherry tomatoes.
  4. Once all was basically cooked through, I then stirred in a chunk of cream cheese, which is what gave it that nice, creamy finish.⁠
  5. The shrimp shells I saved in the freezer for a future stock, and that was it! Easy, delicious, nutritious weeknight dinner.⁠

Organic Fusilli

Zaccagni fusilli

Zaccagni is a small, family pasta producer in Abruzzo, and their line of organic pastas are incredible.

The fusilli is especially excellent. It's a very tightly wound fusilli, so it's amazing to capture sauce. I especially recommend cooking this up and topping with pesto (and maybe some chili oil and broccoli rabe).

Fusilli cooked

One particularly delicious preparation I tried (pictured above) also involved vaquero beans and some meyer lemons I was able to find at the store. I had some frozen pesto I thawed for this -- I sauteed onions and chopped broccoli rabe, then added in some cooked vaquero beans, and then tossed all of that with cooked fusilli, olive oil, pepper, and chopped up meyers. Delish!

Carnaroli Rice

Cordero Carnaroli

Carnaroli is one of the lesser-known risotto rices. It tends to hold up even better than arborio, giving off lots of starch but still holding its shape, and cooks in just 15 minutes.

This organic carnaroli from Cordero, in the Piedmont region of Italy, won't let you down for anything you could imagine creating with creamy rice. Just sauté with butter or oil, add stock or broth as you go, and mix in other ingredients as you wish.

Speckled Grits

Geechie Boy Mill Speckled Grits

More delicious, beautiful heirloom grits coming your way from Geechie Boy Mill on Edisto Island, SC! Given the Italian theme with the delicacies this month, I'd suggest treating these like polenta, and serving underneath some hearty Italy-inspired stews or sauces.

You can always fry up the leftovers and top with a runny egg.

Vaquero Beans

Rancho Gordo Vaqueros

A "vaquero" is a cowboy -- and you can probably tell from the picture why they're called that.

These hold up really well in chilis and stews, and the liquor you get from cooking them up is not to be missed (or included directly in that chili!). I used them above in the fusilli preparation I described, but they're quite versatile beyond that.

Dak Lak Chocolate 70%

Marou chocolate

This month's treat is a beautiful dark chocolate bar from Marou, a craft producer based in Vietnam, where the chocolate actually grows.


Looking for this month's Delicacies Box post? Find it here.

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