We love the holidays – all the merrymaking, eating, drinking, getting together with friends…did we mention eating? There is nothing better than gathering with friends and family over food and drink and it might be no surprise, given what we do for a living, that our own families were ripe with food traditions. Recently, we spent a day in the kitchen making holiday treats and playing with all the gorgeous local wheat we have from our CSA so we decided to invite our friend, Lori, over to share one of her holiday traditions: kutya.
Kutya (literally, wheat, in Ukrainian) is the first of the 12 meatless dishes that comprise a Ukrainian Christmas feast. The 12 dishes symbolize the 12 apostles who attended the last supper. Kutya is a very simple dish: cooked wheat berries, sweetened with honey and dressed with walnuts and poppy seeds.
Wheat berries shine in this sweet and simple dish. Kutya would make an excellent local food alternative to rice pudding and with a bit less honey, a wonderful hearty breakfast option.
1 cup wheat berries
2 1/2 cups water
4 tbsp honey (this makes the kutya traditionally sweet; we liked 2 tbsp a bit better)
2 tbsp poppy seeds
Bring the wheat berries and water to a boil in a large pot and reduce heat to simmer; allow to simmer until wheat berries are tender yet still chewy, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Drain wheat, reserving starchy cooking water, and place in a mixing bowl.
Stir in honey and poppy seeds. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid, about a tablespoon at a time, until it forms a bit of a sauce for the wheat. Then mix in walnuts and serve.
Our friend, Lori Petryk, is also an awesome foodie dietitian. Check out her show on Shaw TV, Good For You Good For The Earth.
Desiree and Heather