We have a new, beloved addition to our home table – an incredible summer dish we call, for short and between ourselves “Ottolenghi salad”. The reason we call it so is because we got inspired by one of the Yotam Ottolenghi salads – a Chefs we highly regard and follow. We tried his version, and we liked it. We liked it a lot! And then we decided to change bits and pieces and make our own version and here it is.
The thing about this dish is that it’s rich, full of healthy ingredients and at the same time it’s interesting, really well balanced and tasty. It really is!
During a busy periods like now, when we are occupied with many things and finding time for cooking is hard, I feel really happy I can make complete meals like this one. It saves me time and efforts without compromising on the nutrition value and indeed without compromising on the delicious taste experience.
I typically start making it in the morning, when the house is still peaceful and silent, by boiling the grains for it. Somewhere between the breakfast of my daughter, the games, the house and garden responsibilities, I usually find few minutes to chop the dried fruits and nuts and to prepare the rest of the ingredients. Then, just before the family gets to the table I mix in the greens. And that’s all – the healthy and delicios lunch is served. No fuss, no extended spinning around the stove.
Another reason we make this salad relatively often is our love for Einkorn wheat. And the “Ottolenghi salad” gives us another good chance to use this ancient grain. But should you don’t like Einkorn wheat or you happen to not have it, don’t worry – every ingredient in this salad is substitutable with another, making the possible variations literally endless. We had try it with buckwheat, as in the original recipe, quinoa and amaranth, with all kinds of nuts (still almonds are my favorite here); raisins, chopped dried plums or dried cherries and cranberries, instead of the dried apricots; with all kind of green leaves we grow in our garden; with or without spring onion.
You can also quite liberally vary with the quantities of the ingredients, as with every salad. The one thing we need to outline is the importance of a rather abundant amount of olive oil – the dish is delicious when “juicy”, otherwise there is possibility for the grains to dry out and the whole mixture to be a bit insipid.
Preparation time: 45-50 minutes
250g Einkorn wheat
200g wild Himalayan rice
1 lemon, juiced
80-100ml olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or 2 stems spring garlic, finely chopped
150g dried apricots, chopped
50-70g peeled almonds (either raw or roasted), roughly chopped
5 spring onions, thinly sliced
20-30g parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
10g basil leaves, torn
50-70g rocket (arugula) leaves
Before boiling, I wash the grains briefly under cold water.My favorite rice for this salad is the wild Himalayan. And as it’s a kind of basmati rice, I cook it in a small saucepan with cold water (1 part rice, 2 parts water).
Bring to a boil, lower the temperature, cover with a lid and let it steam for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the heat when still al dente, and let it stay in the sauce pan with the lid on for 5 minutes. Then transfer it in the cold salad bowl to cool, gently fluffing it up with a fork.
For the einkorn wheat, bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add the rinsed grains and boil gently, until the grains are al dente (it generally boils similar to wild rice – the time needed will vary from 25 to 30-35 minutes). Rinse under cold water and leave to drain.
Meanwhile, make the dressing by mixing the olive oil with the lemon juice, crushed garlic and salt and set aside.
Once the einkorn wheat is cold enough, add it to the rice, followed by the chopped apricots, almonds and spring onions. Pour the dressing over the mixture and give it a nice jumble until everything is well mixed.
Just before serving, stir in the herbs. You can arrange the ready salad in layers (altering the grain mixture with layers of rocket, or (especially if you rocket is a bit tough, but proudly homegrown like mine) torn it roughly and mix it in the salad.
This grain salad is actually even tastier on the next day, served cold after a morning spent on the beach in the park or in garden, whenever you happen to spent your free time. Just remember to add the greens (herbs and rocket) before serving.
The recipe is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s buckwheat and rice salad.