Grain salads are forgiving and flexible, and nutty spelt takes well to all kinds of vegetables like fennel, arugula, or carrots. Here, quick-marinated mushrooms, leeks, and cucumbers combine for a refreshing, flavorful salad.
Why this recipe works:
- Marinating the cooked mushrooms and leeks with cider vinegar for 15 minutes allows them to absorb the vinegar so that each bite delivers a pop of tartness.
- A sprinkling of espelette pepper powder adds a blast of color and a mild, wonderfully fruity red-pepper flavor.
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, diced
- 1 large (12-ounce) leek, diced
- 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon picked thyme leaves, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, divided
- 6 cups cooked whole-grain spelt (from about 24 ounces dry)
- 2 small Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise, then sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup minced chives
- Espelette pepper powder, for garnish (optional)
In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until tender and their water has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add leek, garlic, and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook until leak is tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and stir in 1/4 cup cider vinegar. Let stand 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, stir together spelt, cucumbers, and mushroom-leek mixture. Stir in remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, parley, and chives, and season with salt and pepper. Spoon salad into bowls and sprinkle with espelette pepper, if using.