I’m on a malted wheat kick lately.

Malted wheat is the base grain used in making wheat beer. The malting process initiates germination in the kernel, but then is halted 24-48 hours later. This creates useable starch that can be transformed into sweet wort that yeast can then convert to alcohol.

All this potential energy is why I like using it in cooking. It is an ample substitute for rice as a side dish. I like pairing it with savory flavors that benefit from a sweet component.

The dish in the photo is a Baked Butternut Squash Bulb with Malted Wheat. I like butternut squash for its duel flesh component. I can cut the bulb end from the neck and use the two in different applications. For this, I cut the bulbs in half, scooped out the seeds, seasoned with a little salt, pepper and brown sugar, and roasted it in a high oven til tender

For the malted wheat filling, take a cup of malted wheat and hydrate it with a cup of near boiling water. I stir in herbs of sage, fennel, fresh parsley, smoked salt and black pepper. In the restaurant I cover it and place it in the holding cabinet for an hour or so, until the grain is soft enough to chew. Unlike rice, it will not absorb twice its measure in liquid, so there may be some sweet malty liquor left in the pan that can be used in flavoring for bread or other dishes.

For the sauce, scrape out one of the baked squash bulbs, which should yield about a half cup. Puree this in a blender with a tablespoon of dark molasses. Thin to a pourable consistency with a little cream.

To assemble the final presentation, drizzle a little sauce on the plate, add a scoop of seasoned malted wheat into the squash bulb and top with more of the squash/molasses puree. A bit of fresh parsley sprinkled on adds a finishing touch.

Malted Wheat