this post comes a little late on my blogging schedule (I do have a post schedule! Why, don’t you? I write it down and keep it updated with every change I make) because of Real Life events which have come in the way of Blog Life and also because I couldn’t think of a decent enough story to accompany this spelt salad. Don’t get me wrong. The salad is good. We had it twice, with little variations, before I settled down for this combination of ingredients. Spelt, courgette and cherry tomatoes have always been there, but to start with I used green basil. Tasty enough, but then I saw purple basil from Growing with Grace and remebered its heavily aromatic leaves in the simple leafy salads we used to eat in Tbilisi, Georgia and went for it. However many leaves you decide to put in it’s up to you, but my suggestion is: better sorry than safe! Although, unless you submerge your salad in purple basil, you won’t be sorry.

Adding purple basil meant that the spring onions, which featured in the first edition of this salad, were opted out of the second one. Nothing personal, spring onions, but there was just so much going on, with the chilli and the basil, I thought you were a little…superfluous. As for the dairy component, I leave the choice to you: the tangy bitterness of feta or the mellow sweetness of ricotta. They both work, in different ways, so you just need to decide whether there is a lot going on already in terms of flavour and you’d like a calming note, or whether you belong to the “the more the merrier” school of salad thought and go for feta. I won’t judge! What you shouldn’t doubt is how good whole spelt grains are. I was already a fan of spelt flour, but the grains stole my heart! If you’ve never tried them, making them the earthy base for a zingy salad works quite well. And with this, I’m off to spend a long weekend in a cottage in the Lake District, with good company, good food (obviously!), two dogs and a wonderful book. The weather might not be a perk of living in the North West, but the proximity to the Lakes certainly is. I’ll be back next week (right on schedule, I promise!) with the recipe for a delicious summer treat.

Courgette, purple basil and spelt salad

Adapted by Good Food’s Quinoa, courgette and feta salad. Serves two/three as a main, or four/five as a starter.

75 gr spelt
1 large courgette, or about 170/180 gr
150 gr cherry tomatoes
1 red chilli
100 gr feta cheese (or ricotta)
2 bunches purple basil (or green basil), washed and dried
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
salt & pepper

There are various ways to cook spelt. My favourite is to soak it the night before in plenty of cold water, and then coot it for about 15-20 minutes in the way you would cook risotto: in a small pot, adding just enough boiling water to barely cover it, keeping it to a simmer and stirring frequently. When cooked but still with a bite to it, drain, rinse and drain again. Leave to cool on a sieve. In the meantime, you can prepare the rest. Cut the courgette into ribbons with a potato peeler, quarter the cherry tomatoes and finely chop the red chilli. Toss them all together in the serving bowl. Add the crumbled feta cheese and the shredded leaves of basil. Stir in the lemon juice and oil before adding the cold spelt grains. Give a final stir, taste and decide whether to add any seasoning. Serve.