Friday, July 22, 2011

And Now, What I Affectionately Call, Hippie Salad

A couple of years ago in the local farmer's market, I stumbled upon samples of this at my favorite always smiling, organic vendor Riverbank Farms. It was billed as "Summer Energy Salad", and it taunted me from its crinkled paper shot glass. My first question was; What the hell is a spelt berry? Then there were no more questions, I was chomping on something delightfully chewy, with a light nutty taste, spiked with dill and cider vinegar. I was in love. The next week I returned, I was crushed to find it not waiting for me. It was a fickle thing, showing up every other week, or not at all. This won't do, I must take matters into my own hands.

First of all, this is a spelt berry. Wikipedia says that spelt is
Triticum spelta) a hexaploid species of wheat.

Cool. I managed to find plain, already cooked spelt berries at the Whole Foods. They also sell them in dry bulk, if you're into that. Once you've acquired your spelt berries, the rest is really up to you. This salad is extremely flexible, so whatever farmer's market finds, or leftovers hidden in your fridge that you may have, this may be the grain to bring it all together. It's nutty, nutritious, light, and satisfying.
This is my interpretation of it, and it relies heavily on a seasoning I'm not familiar with. I grew up in an Italian household, I am a stranger to dill. It was hated by my mother, and therefor, never in the house. I have a ridiculous number of spices in my cabinet, and I mean that in the most sincere of ways. It is a labyrinth of bottles that would break the very strongest of
intrepid Greek heroes at a mere glance. Good luck finding Dill in there, Theseus.
What about cheddar and dill scones? you might ask. That isn't chocolate chip, get out of my face.
Moving on.
This go around I chose fresh peas:

French radishes:

and garlic scapes to go with it all.

But again, go with your heart, hippie salad style.

Hippie Salad

A melange, if you will, of fresh veggies
in this instance:
a handful of fresh Peas or 1/4 cup, shelled or sliced in the pod
1/4 cup of thinly sliced French Radishes
about 1/4 to 1/2 finely sliced Garlic Scape (in lieu of Shallot) approx a tablespoon
1 cup of cooked Spelt Berries

Scant amount Extra Virgin Olive oil 1-2 Tblsp to taste
Apple Cider Vinegar (Put down the Heinz and break out the good stuff) to taste
Squeeze of fresh Lemon
Chopped Fresh Dill 1-2 tsp
Salt & Pepper to taste

The instructions aren't really necessary here: Combine your spelt berries and sliced veggies, and dress. It's a perfect summer time, no cook, fast meal or snack.

Some variations include
Chopped Cucumbers
Cherry Tomatoes
Shallots instead of Scapes
Torn or chiffonade of Kale
Torn or chiffonade of Chard
Some finely chopped chilies for a nice surprise
Mustard seeds for that something something

Have I stressed enough the flexibility of this?
Just so we're clear, you really have no reason not to try this, barring wheat allergy. In which case, try it with Quinoa, you poor, poor dear.