Get a lesson in the kitchen while learning about some unique cooking products

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(WITI) -- Get a lesson in the kitchen while learning about some pretty unique cooking products. Laura hangs at Sur la table in Bayshore Town Center ready to learn.

Spelt Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Feta
Yield: 4 servings

Spelt is the more nutritionally robust cousin of wheat with a 7,000-year history; it was one of the first grains to be used for bread.

1 cup pearled spelt berries
12 ounces asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths, blanched and shocked
2 cups sliced sugar snap peas
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup sliced green onion
6 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
8-ounces package feta cheese, crumbled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Salt the water generously. Add the spelt, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until al dente. Spread the grains on a baking sheet to cool.

In a large bowl toss together the blanched asparagus, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, green onions and fresh dill. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and minced shallot.

Add vinaigrette to the vegetables and fold in the cooled spelt and crumbled feta. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Spicy Steamed Mussels with Fennel and Tomatoes
Yield: 2 main course or 4 appetizer servings

Mussels are sometimes gaping slightly when you buy them. This is natural, but the shell should close tightly when tapped lightly with a finger. If not, the mollusk is dead and must be discarded. Do not store live shellfish in a plastic bag. Instead, the moment you get them home, place them in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Drain, transfer to a bowl and cover with a wet towel. To remove the filaments (called the “beard”) that sometimes protrude from mussels, use a small pair of pliers, or protect your fingertips with the tip of a dish cloth, and pull firmly down toward the hinge.

1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced thinly
1/2 cup julienned yellow onion
1 peeled carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup Pernod
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded (discard any that do not close)
10 large, fresh basil leaves cut into ribbons

Crush the peppercorns and fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle, add the salt and red pepper flakes and set aside.

In a heavy large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat, add the extra-virgin olive oil, fennel, onion, carrot and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spice mixture. Add the wine, pernod and the tomatoes along with any juices in the bowl and bring to a boil.

Add the mussels to the stockpot and cover. Do not stir the mussels. Allow the steam within the pot to open the mussels, about 5 minutes. Scoop the mussels into individual shallow bowls, discarding any that remain closed, and then spoon some vegetables and broth over them. Sprinkle each bowl with basil and serve immediately with crusty bread.

Baba Ganoush
Yield: 4 servings

This is a popular meze, the combination of smoky eggplant, creamy tahini and brightness of lemon is great as a dip for lavash crackers or pita, or as a companion to a great falafel sandwich.

2 large purple eggplants (about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon freshly toasted and ground cumin seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Prick the skin of the eggplants a few times with a fork, and then char the outside of the eggplants by placing them directly on the flame of a gas burner or grill. As the skin chars, turn it until the eggplants are uniformly charred on the outside.

Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and finish cooking by roasting the eggplant in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they’re completely soft; you should be able to poke a paring knife into them easily. Remove from oven and let cool.

Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp. Puree the pulp in a blender or food processor with the remaining ingredients until smooth.

Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

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