If you think the beginning of fall means the end of salads, think again. This amazing salad is the epitome of comfort food.
Taken from his La Mia Cucina Toscana cookbook, my husband whipped this salad up for dinner. Pino Luongo, the chef in the book, often replaces the rice in risotto with spelt because the hearty grain maintains its character in the finished dish rather than simply becoming a backdrop for the others. The combination of the spelt, pancetta and mushrooms is heavenly.
What you’ll need
6 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cups spelt, soaked in cold water to cover for 2 hours and drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed flat
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, cleaned with a damp cloth and sliced into thin strips
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned with a damp cloth and sliced into thin strips
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces slab bacon, cut into thin strips or small cubes
1 bunch arugula, stems trimmed, washed and dried
What to do
Warm 2 tbs of the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Add the spelt, stir and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Lower the heat and cook, covered for 20 minutes or until the spelt has absorbed the water. Set aside.
Warm another 2 tbs olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic. Add the oyster mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, 1 tsp sea salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Stir and sauté until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Place the bacon in a sauté pan and cook over low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned. Pour off the fat.
Transfer the bacon to a large salad bowl. Add the spelt and mushrooms and toss well. Add the arugula leaves, the remaining 2 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp sea salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Toss well and serve at once.
Wash down this peppery salad with Traminer, a crisp white wine from Friuli or Trentino.