All images © Valery Rizzo
As you know I have been having lots of fun with my garden this year. I did much better than last year, I may even try composting next year. I also learned that as long as I kept the birds and squirrels fed they would leave my vegetables for alone. I made all kinds of light and healthy dishes all summer long with tomatoes, cucumbers, string beans, eggplants, basil, spearmint and other herbs from the garden. I presently have several red bell peppers I am anxiously waiting to harvest and bunches of strawberries if I get to them before the birds do.
The spelt berry and cucumber recipe was adapted slightly from Mario Batali's book Molto Gusto. I used spelt berries instead of farro which I found at the Park Slope Food Coop and the cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and basil were from my garden.
Spelt and Cucumbers with Cherry Tomatoes, Red Onion and Basil
1 1/2 cups spelt berries
2 or 3 medium cucumbers, cut into 1/4 inch triangles (I used Diva cukes but Kirbies would also work nicely)
1/2 of a red onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 large handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 handful fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced (chiffonade) I throw in the tiniest leaves, whole
1/4 cup Lambrusco vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
Combine spelt berries and water to cover by 2 inches in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer, skimming off the foam. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook until berries are just tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
Drain spelt berries and transfer to a large bowl. Add cucumbers, onions, tomatoes and basil, mixing well. Add vinegar, olive oil, salt and fresh pepper, mix well and serve, or let stand at room temperature for 1 hour to bring out the flavors. This can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Serves 4 to 6 people.