Our March Essentials Box is an exciting mix of delicious twists on familiar ingredients (like rice and beans) plus some new and less familiar -- yet still truly delicious -- ingredients like heirloom cornbread mix, rye berries, and a fun, whole-grain pasta. Plus a bit of chocolate to round it all out.
Here’s what’s in the box:
- Rye Berries from Maine Grains
- Carolina Gold Rice from Geechie Boy Mill
- Ojo de Cabra Beans from Rancho Gordo
- Pipe Rigate Pasta from Community Grains
- Jimmy Red Cornbread Mix made in collaboration by Sean Brock and Geechie Boy Mill
- Madagascar Milk Chocolate from Pump Street Chocolate
The Ojo de Cabra beans can be cooked according to the instructions in my "How to Cook: Beans" post.
The Rye berries and Carolina Gold Rice may seem intimidating, but can be cooked according to the instructions in my "How to Cook: Grains" post.
The pasta and cornbread mix can be cooked according to the instructions on the package.
Maine Grains is a great producer commited to sustainable practices – their pearled barley in a previous box was a big hit!
Rye is often associated with a caraway flavor, due to the prevalence of carraway seeds in rye bread, but it can serve as a very nutty, flavorful grain on its own. Especially great in a grain bowl, or a hearty soup. Just simmer in some salt and plenty of water until done, and then drain.
I recently cooked them as above, tossed with sauteed onions and broccoli, topped with queso de freir (kind of like a haloumi you sear in a skillet), and it worked splendidly! The next day I treated it like fried rice, adding in some curry paste and egg, and serving with some grilled sausage.
Carolina Gold Rice
Grown in the Carolinas since the 1600s – the original rice in the Americas – this heirloom varietal has a tremendous amount of flavor and versatility.
Cook according to instructions on the bag, add to a soup, or use for rice pudding. You won’t go wrong.
If you're following the instructions on the bag, which include a step to help fluff in the oven, you can also get imaginative with the fat and seasoning combinations you can use at that stage. For instance, if you also got this month's Delicacies, the turmeric ghee works great here. Or use good salted butter and add some herbs or spices that go well with whatever else you're cooking.
Ojo de Cabra Beans
Ojo de Cabra (or ‘Eye of the Goat”) is one of Rancho Gordo’s most popular beans – the perfect pot bean, just cook with onion and garlic, and make sure to keep the broth!
These almost feel like a cross between a black bean and a pinto bean, and and can be used in most pot bean applications -- on their own, in a chili or other soup, in a burrito, refried. The possibilities are plentiful.
These fun shapes are perfect for a very saucy pasta sauce – or even served underneath a stew. Made by Community Grains with their Identity Preserved program, allowing complete traceability of how the whole grain wheat went from farm to pasta box.
I especially like cooking nutty, whole grain pasta like this directly in the sauce until it all emulsifies together, though that especially works with very wet sauces.
H.S. Brocks Jimmy Red Cornbread
A collaboration between Sean Brock and Greg Johnsman, this is a cornbread mix made using Jimmy Red corn (we featured the grits in an earlier box).
This stands pretty much on its own – just make cornbread per the instructions on the bag!
Madagascar Milk Chocolate
This month's treat is a beautiful milk chocolate bar from Pump Street, handcrafted from from cacao beans harvested from the Sambirano River Valley in Madagascar.