Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spelt salad with roasted asparagus and radishes

Hello friends, I didn’t mean to stay away for this long but since we last spoke, I have been doing some recuperating. And I also have been cheating on you and posting on instagram rather than here. Sorry, it was easier and quicker. But now I’m back!

So, I had another wisdom tooth removed a couple of weeks ago and this time was worse than the previous one. I’ll spare you the gory details and I’ll just say that my fear of dentists is gradually taking epic proportions. I’m thankful that I have a clean bill of teeth health now and I hope I don’t see a dental surgeon again in my life.

As you can imagine, eating has been difficult, but I have been hitting the ice cream quite hard, homemade of course to keep me busy. I’ve been eating lots of soups, pasta and when I got a bit better, I made gemista (Greek rice and minced veal-stuffed tomatoes and peppers) which somehow brought a summery feel to our table and we absolutely loved it.

The other day however I made a dish that was very seasonal, full of spring bounty and quite easy to make. I have been on an asparagus kick for the past month or so but I wanted to do something different than eating them simply roasted or grilled with olive oil and lemon. I wanted to incorporate them in a dish that was light yet filling.

I made a grain salad with spelt, roasted asparagus, shaved radishes, goat’s cheese and a honey, Dijon mustard, lemon and olive oil dressing. It was great.

Fulfilling and flavorful with nutty and sweet notes from the chewy and ever-so-slightly al dente spelt, earthy bitter notes from the roasted asparagus that had lightly caramelized in the oven and vibrant peppery notes from the crunchy radishes. The fresh, sweet and pungent Dijon mustard dressing coated the grains and vegetables, and along with the tangy goat’s cheese that melted among the ingredients becoming creamy and luscious, gave the salad a beautiful shine and a lovely flavor.

Hope you enjoy it. I’ll be back soon!

Spelt and Roasted Green Asparagus Salad with Radishes and Goat’s Cheese

Spelt (also known as Dinkel) is an ancient species of wheat that has gained popularity over the last few years. I love spelt flour and have been using it extensively for bread and other baked goods for a long time, but only the last year or so have I been using the whole grain. It’s high in protein, fiber, vitamin E and magnesium so apart from being delicious, it’s also good for you.

French Breakfast radishes are less peppery than the regular ones and very tasty. Feel free to substitute with the regular small, round radishes, especially if you enjoy their heat. Slice them using a mandoline or a very sharp knife.

This salad is substantial and can easily be served as a main meal.

Yield: 4-6 salad / 2-4 main-course servings

200 g whole spelt (spelt berries)
450 g fresh green asparagus spears, trimmed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
7-8 French Breakfast radishes (or regular radishes)
100 g fresh, firm goat’s cheese or homemade chèvre, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper

for the dressing
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1½ tsp Dijon mustard
1½ tsp runny honey (I used Greek pine tree honey)
Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh small purple shiso leaves, for garnishing

Special equipment: colander, large rimmed baking sheet, baking paper

Soak the spelt in plenty of water for 3 hours (or according to your package instructions). Rinse it well under cold running water and add it to a medium-sized pan with plenty of water to cover it by 5cm. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Put the lid on ajar and boil over medium-high heat for about 40 minutes or until the spelt is tender yet al dente. It will be somewhat chewy which shouldn’t surprise you as this is how spelt texture is. While boiling, skim off the scum that floats to the top with a metal spoon. Drain the spelt in a colander and leave to cool.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 220°C.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with baking paper and add asparagus in one layer. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and toss with your hands to coat the asparagus well.
Place on the middle rack of the preheated oven and roast the asparagus for 8-10 minutes or until tender and charred, checking and turning them over halfway through the roasting time.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the asparagus to cool. Then, chop them on the diagonal.

Prepare the dressing by adding olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and honey in a small bowl and whisking well to combine. Add a little salt and pepper to taste and whisk again.

In a large bowl, add the cooled spelt and season with salt and pepper. Add the asparagus, radishes, goat’s cheese and drizzle the dressing on top. You may want to add half of it first and give the salad a taste before adding the rest. Toss the salad well and check the seasoning.
Plate the salad, adding a few shiso leaves on top.
Serve immediately.

The salad doesn’t keep well, it becomes watery if you leave it in the fridge, so keep that in mind when you make it. You can prepare the spelt and dressing beforehand and assemble the salad at the last minute before you serve it.


  1. I have been AWOL for a while and am catching up on all my reading. Sorry to hear you had to endure yet more surgery on your wisdom teeth. Ugh... I love every single ingredient you put into this salad and I can imagine that the result is even better than the sum of the parts!

  2. I think I post the things I create more on Instagram than my blog, as well. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

    I'm really loving radishes at the moment which means I'm loving this salad. Such lovely textures and colours.

  3. This combo of lemon-Dijon dressing, goat cheese, and chewy grains simply cannot be beat. This is a lovely salad and I'm glad you're on the mend and can enjoy this salad too!

  4. glad that you are back, and done with the dentist! I have been making lots of asparagus dishes as well. You have to enjoy them while they are here. I like how you combined them with radishes--beautiful contrast of color and crunch.

  5. Beautiful and super, super fresh salad! There is nothing about this not to love :)


  6. Raw salad is what I prefer the most when sitting for lunch with family. My family loves Greek salad most. I try to make variations in that. Keep sharing such more Greek salad dishes here. I love Greek food a lot.

  7. The dish looks wonderful. Sorry about your tooth!

  8. Oh, Magda! So sorry about your tooth! I wish you lived here as I have the best dentist in the world who has made every procedure painless. Until him, I thought they were all part of an evil ring of sadists! It might be worth the price of the flight next time! :)

    Your salad looks amazing, and I love anything with spelt. So funny, I bought that variety of radishes and have been chomping away at them as a snack. I never occurred to me to use them in a recipe!