Because the weather has been so fickle this year, the sweltering heat that makes up a Sacramento summer hasn't made itself known until this week. Sure, there were the random 100-degree days in May, but overall, this has been a very mild June. All good things must come to an end, though, and we are now being assaulted with 150-degree weather (okay, it's only 107. I just like to round up). Like most people, my appetite and cravings change during the summer, and cool salads seem to top the craving list. And as I'm sure you're all aware by now, a salad – even hot summer day salad - doesn't have to mean just lettuce and tomatoes.
This is another recipe inspired by the deli salads at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. Though the Davis Food Co-op will always hold a special place in my heart (it's a lot more quirky and offers regular national brands and conventional produce in addition to the organic nut & twig stuff), the Sac Co-op's deli is truly superb. Some of my favorite things to eat have come from this deli, and I get a ton of great ideas from checking out their selections. Their Spelt Berry Salad has always been in my Top 5 from their deli, and I figured I could make my own version at home to cut back on the costs, just as I did with my Mediterranean Style Tuna Salad. It was very easy to prepare and just as tasty, with a few little additions of my own.
This is an awesome way to bring more whole grains into your diet. However, please don’t feel like you’re bound to using spelt or kamut berries for this recipe. It will taste lovely made with farro or even regular brown rice. Granted, the brown rice won’t offer the same great, chewy texture that the other grains do, but it will still be tasty and healthy. Most of these whole grains can be cooked with the same water-to-grain ratio and timing as brown rice; however, you may need to use a bit more water for kamut and spelt, so be sure to keep an eye on the grains while they’re cooking. The dressing is meant simply to coat the salad, not drench it, so if it seems a bit dry, don’t worry. Lastly, even though this falls under the uber-healthy category, be very careful when choosing your whole grains. If you have celiac disease it’s best to stay away from farro and spelt as they’re in the same family as wheat. Kamut berries are well tolerated by most folks with food allergies, but it’s probably best to err on the side of caution if you do have a wheat allergy. Other than that, here’s a nice, easy salad that you can enjoy all summer long!
Kamut Berry Salad (serves 4; total cost per serving: ~ $2)
2 cups cooked whole grains like spelt, kamut, farro, barley, brown rice, etc. (at room temperature)
1 small cucumber, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 c dried cranberries
1/4 c golden raisins
2 T finely chopped parsley
4 oz. crumbled low-fat feta cheese
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 T Dijon mustard
In a small bowl, prepare the dressing by vigorously whisking together the vinegar and Dijon mustard. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the grains, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, cranberries, and raising and toss together. Add the dressing and mix until well coated. Finally, crumble the feta cheese on top and fold into the rest of the salad. Serve with a side of greens or by itself, and enjoy!