Insalata estiva di farro (Spelt salad)

By Silvia Nacamulli, July 25, 2008

This salad is fast becoming one of my favourites. I taught it during the cookery course I ran in Italy last month and at my latest class at the Divertimenti cookery school, and in both cases it was a success. It is easy to make, filling and a change from a traditional green salad.

Spelt, a species of wheat, is becoming increasingly popular as a health food and as an alternative to risotto rice. In fact, you can use pearled spelt (grains of spelt with the outer husk removed) to make any risotto-type dish. It is a nutritious alternative to common wheat and is widely used in Central Europe, where it originated and became widespread during the Bronze Age. In Italy, spelt is known as farro and it is mainly grown in the central regions, in particular in Umbria and Lazio. In the winter months it makes great soups and in the summer it is boiled, drained, left to cool down and used to make tasty salads.

For this recipe I use ripe red cherry tomatoes, rocket and Parmesan cheese: simple, essential Italian ingredients. Very important is also the balsamic vinegar, as it gives this salad a kick. Don't forget the salt, otherwise the full, nutty flavour of spelt won't come out. If you want to prepare a parev version you can leave the Parmesan shavings out. You can also customise this recipe by adding a can of tuna (preferably in olive oil), olives, roasted artichokes or any other of your favourite salad ingredients.

Preparation time: 40 minutes
(Serves 4-6 as salad)


200g. pearled spelt
200g. cherry tomatoes
50g. rocket
50g. Parmesan shavings
Generous splash of good quality extra virgin olive oil
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Cook the spelt by following the instruction on the packet.These may vary.

Generally, you should thoroughly rinse the spelt in running water (similar to rice) and bring it to the boil from cold water. Leave to boil covered for about 20 minutes, add a tablespoon of salt. Once the spelt is cooked, drain it and leave it to cool down a little.

Meanwhile wash the tomatoes, cut them in half, and place them in a salad bowl.

TIP: Roughly remove the seeds from the tomatoes by gently squeezing the cut tomatoes with your hands.

Add the rocket (coarsely torn) and the Parmesan shavings. Add the spelt, a little salt and pepper, a generous splash of extra virgin olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Stir well and serve.

Last updated: 9:47pm, August 26 2008