With the warm weather people start preparing tasty salads again! For me, spelt salads are synonymous with summer food! Last weekend, we invited my sister-in-law and family over for a dinner at my parents’ house in the countryside and had a delicious spelt salad with chicken, and tonight we had spelt salad with shrimp. These are my two favourite combinations but you can invent many other recipes just mixing up your favourite ingredients. Spelt salad can be eaten warm or cold.
A side-note: spelt is called farro in Italian. It is a very nutritious type of grain which contains high levels of proteins and vitamins. Spelt is the oldest known cereal and was already cultivated in 7000 BC. In Tuscany, the Garfagnana area near Lucca is probably the “homeland”. I discovered spelt only after I moved to Pisa. While it’s now quite popular all over the region, up until not too long ago it wasn’t very common in Italian homes. Luckily, it’s back in fashion and is very easy to find even in smaller stores.
Chicken spelt salad
- 1 chicken breast
- 200g spelt
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Cut the chicken breast into small pieces.
Cook the spelt in a pot of boiling water for as long as indicated on the package (I use the pre-soaked spelt which cooks in 18 minutes, but most shops sell spelt that you need to soak overnight before cooking).
While the spelt is cooking, fry a clove of garlic and some leaves of sage in olive oil and add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is well cooked. Add salt and pepper and the yogurt. Mix with the cooked spelt. If you like the salad warm, sauté for a couple of minutes, otherwise let it cool down before serving.
Shrimp and pepper spelt salad
- 200 g spelt
- 2 red bell-peppers
- olive oil
- 400 g of shrimp (fresh or frozen)
Cook the spelt in a pot of boiling water for as long as indicated on the package (see above). Slice and dice the red bell-peppers. Fry a clove of garlic in abundant olive oil. Add the peppers and let cook for at least 10 minutes. Add the shrimp. Let cook for 10 more minutes. Add salt and pepper. If there is water in the pan, make sure it evaporates. Add the spelt and let cook for 3 more minutes. I like this salad warm, but if you prefer it cold, it goes really well with mint sauce.
Not long ago, two friends living near Assisi, Letizia of Alla Madonna del Piatto and Rebecca of Brigolante Guests Apartments, got together to film the recipe for farrotto, the equivalent of risotto but made with spelt (farro). To watch this amusing video, check Letizia’s lovely food blog!