We went hiking. In the mountains. Where everything is green and the sun shines like gold. It’s officially summer, and my adventure-loving-heart is free from its first bout of winter hibernation. I use to plan adventures for us to go on every month or two before moving to the land of four seasons. I did’t know how great an effect living in a snowy city with no car to escape all winter long would have on me (us) and it turned out to be pretty crushing. But last week when I thought I was going to snap if I did’t get off the grid immediately, I text Scott asking when he got off work if he’d be down to pick me up and take off to go do a spontaneous sunset hike in the mountains. He responded, “Yep!” and thus began our road trip. For a whole thirty minutes. Because that’s all it takes to get into the mountains here and I LOVE IT.
The hike was everything I needed. I felt reborn. Refreshed. Ready to do it again, and again, and again. Which we did on Saturday in Garden of the Gods with my newly transplanted cousins in Colorado Springs. Then back to our new favorite mountain outside Denver with friends on Sunday night for another climb at sunset. Get ready for my Instagram feed to look more like this and this all summer long, accompanied by lots of updates on our “Adventures by Us” pin-board. Plus plenty of posts here on the blog to help fuel such adventures – like this summer spelt berry salad.
This salad screams “lunch in the summer” to me with its fresh dill, crisp celery, crunchy almonds, and sweet burst of red grapes. Those spelt berries, too, adding a chewy texture with a nutty flavor that takes this salad’s composition to a new level. Everything is finely chopped and tossed together with a simple, fresh dressing that totally capitalizes on all of the individual ingredients’ textures and flavors. The chickpeas add a dose of protein and fiber to this already stacked salad, keeping you full and fueled for whatever adventure awaits.
I can’t remember where I first heard of spelt berries, but ever since I have been dying to try these little jewels. Much like wheat berries, but, well, without the wheat! Spelt contains a lower amount of gluten – and the little gluten it does have is in a more highly digestible form. Which is why it is the only gluten-containing-grain I incorporate into my diet. I’m all about grain + legume salads with varying vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit no matter what time of year. And I aim to create a new favorite for every season. This time its with spelt berries. HAPPY SUMMER.
A SUMMER SPELT BERRY SALAD
Makes 4 servings for lunch, or 6 to 8 small sides.
Tid-bits: Spelt berries are really the way to go in this salad – its all about the texture. However, if you cannot get ahold of any (or have celiacs) brown rice should be a worthy substitute! Short grain if possible. Cold pressed olive oil can also be substituted for the flax oil if you do not have any on hand.
for the salad
1 cup dry spelt berries + 3 cups water
2 cups cooked chickpeas rinsed and drained
1 large celery stalk
1 cup red grapes quartered
1 1/2 cups finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup sprouted almonds* chopped
2 tablespoons cold pressed flax oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 shallot minced
1 garlic clove minced
1 teaspoon salt I use pink Himalayan
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
*If you cannot get ahold of sprouted almonds, purchase them raw and then roast in a 300F oven for 20 minutes (this helps break down some of the enzyme inhibitors which otherwise make raw nuts difficult to digest). Let them cool before roughly chopping them for the salad.
Begin by combining the dry spelt berries and water in a medium saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Let cook until all of the water is absorbed (about 45 minutes). Remove the pot from the heat once finished, and leave covered to finish steaming for an additional 10 minutes. Rinse the spelt berries under cold water in a stainless steal mesh colander to cool (or transfer to an airtight container and place in the refrigerator to chill if making beforehand). Make sure the spelt berries have been drained well and are free of any excess water.
Place the spelt berries and chickpeas in a large mixing bowl. Rinse, dry, and slice the celery stalk into 1/4 inch thick strips. Then cut into tiny cubes. Add the chopped celery to the salad bowl, along with the quartered grapes, chopped parsley, and 1/3 cup of the roughly chopped almonds (reserve the rest for garnishing at the end).
Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and then add to the salad. Toss well with two large forks. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. You can either serve the salad right away or place in an airtight container to chill and marinate for a few hours, or overnight. It should keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, scoop into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley (if desired) and the remaining chopped almonds.