Spelt with red pepper and radish

CopyrightSpeltSalad

It is a good habit to go grocery shopping with a list and sticking to the list. But even though A & I  spend a great deal of time making a list we often go off-piste and buy something that take our fancy. It is easy to buy but the challenge is to retrieve it from the back of the fridge and incorporate the new ingredients into the regular weekday dishes.

Radish is in season in beginning of spring and the scarlet small round ones have a particularly engaging exterior. I have been tempted by them before but never did manage to make them a part of a main meal. This summer in 2015 when we  bought some I was determined to do better and hence spend some time trying to come up with variety of ways of enjoying these juicy mustard flavoured delights. This recipe is the result of one such experiment.

This recipe makes a light summer lunch for 2 and takes about 30 mins to prepare.

The base of all good salad meal has to be a high protein grain and you can either use whole spelt berries or pearl barley for this recipe. The protein and fiber content of whole spelt is higher than barley and consequently the texture of the former is also far more robust. I prefer spelt in this recipe as it takes a tiny little bit longer to chew the spelt allowing me that extra time to devour the sweet peppery flavours of the composition.

To begin with cook 1/2 cup of spelt in about 2 cups of water. Spelt berries should take about 25 mins to soften. If you have a good vegetable broth at hand, then you can also cook the spelt in the broth for a richer flavour.

While the spelt is cooking you can start bringing the vegetables together. The vegetables do not need any cooking. Chop 1 red (or orange or yellow) bell pepper into small 1 cm square pieces and about 6 radishes into very thin circular slices. Add the vegetables to about 80 grams of mixed leaf salad in a salad bowl.

For sweetness chop 6 dates into thin slices and add to the jumble. Add handful of the regulars – pumpkin and sunflower seeds for crunch.

Add salt and pepper to the mix and give it a good shake.

Now it is time to check the spelt for softness. If you are cooking spelt for the first time, then it is a good idea to try out a grain to ensure it is cooked to your satisfaction. That will help you estimate the time when you cook it next time. Drain the water and cool the spelt under a stream of cold water to arrest any further cooking.

Add the tepid spelt berries to the salad bowl. Add 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar and 2 tbsp of olive oil.

Bring it all together gently and season it further if necessary.

Allow the salad to rest for an hour, at the least, before serving to allow the vinegar to mellow down the radish. The good news is that if you pack this salad for lunch or prepare it in advance then the vinegar gets even more time to do its magic.