I love spelt in salads. I find it to be as satisfying as eating meat. Even after a long cooking in boiling water it remains chewy and dense, unlike farro with which it is often confused. Because of its great texture spelt is also a wonderful “do ahead” grain. I keep a few cups already cooked on hand to add to salads or cooked vegetable dishes. My most recent obsession is combining the spelt with beets. The rich color and sweet complex flavor of roasted beets permeates the dense red-brown grain to create a dish that’s bright in both flavor and color. My friend and long time collaborator at Angeli, Chef Kathy Ternay made this lovely salad of spelt and beets and combined it with the sweet acidic tang of tangerines and the crunch of almonds.
Spelt – Beet Salad with Tangerines and Almonds
1 cup spelt
1 – 2 beets, tops removed, washed
2 tangerines, peeled and separated into segments, white pith discarded
1/4 cup Marcona almonds, chopped coarsely
2 tablespoons sliced almonds for garnish
Cook spelt as you would pasta, in abundant boiling salted water until it reaches a texture that pleases you. It will take at least 45 minutes, maybe longer. When cooked, drain the grain and set it aside in a mixing bowl to cool.
While the grain is cooking roast the beets. I find the easiest way is to wrap them up in aluminum foil, place the aluminum package on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven until they are tender when pierced with a paring knife. If the beets are fresh (not those giant storage beets) it will take about 40 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully open the aluminum package to release the steam. Let the beets cool until you can handle them then slip off the skins and cut them into half inch dice. Add them to the cooked spelt.
Add the Marcona almonds to the spelt and the beets. Add the dressing as needed. The salad can be made to this point up to two days ahead. Before serving toss in the tangerine segments. Mound on platter and scatter sliced almonds.
1/2 cup orange or tangerine juice
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced or put through garlic press or grated on microplane
3/4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to taste
First, put the orange juice in a small saucepan and bring it to a lively boil. Reduce it by half then remove from heat and let cool. Once cooled, whisk together with vinegar, garlic, oil and salt to taste. Use as needed to dress spelt salad.