Summer keeps us hanging on. And with my sister visiting from Seattle the last week of August and beginning of September, we soaked it in. We swam, we kayaked, we cheered on Tom Cruise in Top Gun at the Union Terrace with a bunch of people who weren’t born when that movie was in theaters. And we broke down and bought tickets to Yum Yum Fest 2015.
There wasn’t much (any) vegetarian food (we’re still not over pork belly?), but thank goodness for cold brew coffee push pops from Forequarter and Barmadillo’s delightful cocktails named after old baseball players. What more do you need, really?
With this heat, all I’ve wanted to do is eat ice cream and drink booze, but with Half-moon in the picture, I’m trying to be a good vegetarian and eat protein, protein, protein! I’m lousy at grains and feel guilty just from looking at back issues of Bon Appetit that praise the wonders of Farro! Freekeh! Millet! Teff! It makes my head spin. But the other day as I stared remorsefully at the jar of spelt berries on my counter that hadn’t been touched since who-knows-when, I took action. I soaked those suckers in a bowl of water overnight (which was not my intention, but I went to bed before cooking said spelt berries) and the next day I cooked them up and made a tabbouleh-inspired salad with cherry tomatoes, lemon juice and loads of parsley. It hit the spot.
Spelt Berry Cherry Tomato Salad
1 1/2 cups uncooked spelt berries
1/4 onion, chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved
bunch of parsley, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the spelt berries (you may soak for an hour- or overnight- to lessen the cooking time.)* Once the grains are cold, mix them together with cherry tomatoes, onion and parsley. Make a citrus-y dressing with the juice of a lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper (bonus points for freshly smashed peppercorns.) Leftovers are good for a couple of days.
*How do you cook spelt berries? (From the kitchn.com)
• If you want the spelt berries very soft, like steamed rice, add 3 cups of water or stock to 1 cup of spelt, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
• If you like it chewier and nuttier, like for salads, use 2 cups of water or stock for every cup of spelt berries. Cook the spelt like risotto, adding half a cup at a time and stirring after each addition until the liquid evaporates. They should be tender after about 30-40 minutes.
Enjoy the heat while it lasts, my friends. The crickets’ songs will soon be a memory.