Recipe Redux: Whole grains – accidental warm spelt salad

What food blogger – especially one with Obsessive Pun Disorder – wouldn’t love the chance to say they bit off more than they can chew? Thanks (I think?) to Recipe Redux, I had the opportunity to do just that. For November, we Reduxers were charged with using a new whole grain. So I dove right in and tried to modify a recipe I’ve never made before (pan-seared oatmeal) with a grain I’ve never eaten, much less prepared – spelt.

The idea was to modify the sweet breakfast recipe into a savory version that would highlight the richer, mushroom-y flavor of spelt. The result? Well, let’s call it Accidental Spelt Salad, because there were some… structural issues that required a salvage job and a bowl.

I mixed cooked spelt with egg and Dijon mustard and layered it with some Gruyere cheese in the middle. This chilled for about an hour; I then inverted it and cut it into neat little triangles. Alas, here’s where things went south.

If you’ve seen the Simpsons episode where newly vegetarian Lisa sends Homer chasing a roast pig through town, you’ll understand my inner dialogue at this point. I carefully lifted the triangles into a nonstick pan, watching little fissures emerge on their surfaces (“They’re relaxing a little. It’s still good. It’s still good.”). After 4-5 minutes, I flipped them and watched half of them collapse as they hit the pan again (“Just a little loose. It’s still good. It’s still good.”) Another 4-5 minutes, during which I tried and failed to re-shape each triangle (“They’re just a little disintegrated. It’s still good. IT’S STILL GOOD.”), and the ones that held their shape thus far finally gave up the ghost.

Before everything went downhill

I was finally left with a crumbly spelt hash of sorts – not the crispy pan-seared pieces I intended, but still pretty tasty. I divvied the servings up into bowls, topped with them with the sautéed onions and spinach, and called it salad. Accidental Spelt Salad, to be precise, and here’s the recipe pretending that’s what I’d meant to do all along.

4 servings, approx. 215 calories each

1 cup spelt (dry)
2 ½ cups water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
½-2/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/8 tsp nutmeg
4-5 cups spinach (approx. 1 10-ounce bag)
½ large red onion, diced
Ground black pepper, to taste
Shaved romano or parmesan cheese, to taste

To cook the spelt, soak overnight in the 2 ½ cups water. The following day, bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for approximately 50 minutes. If you choose not to soak, extend the cook time to 90 minutes.

While the spelt is cooking, heat some olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until they are translucent and just starting to brown, 5-6 minutes. Add the nutmeg and stir for 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook until it just starts to wilt. Remove from heat.

When the spelt is done, drain any extra liquid and return the pan to medium low heat. Stirring constantly, slowly add the egg and continue to stir until it is cooked and well distributed. Add the Gruyere and mix until melted. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the mustard.

Divide the spelt among four bowls, and top each with ¼ of the spinach mixture. Top with some ground black pepper and grated cheese.

If you’re not wild about a salvage job, never fear – the foodie dietitians of Recipe Redux have been up to all kinds of whole grain goodness, which you can try for yourself:


  1. Never apologize for making a new creation in the kitchen. As long as it tastes great and looks good, it’s not a failure. It’s just a new dish 😉

    The story, though, is hilarious. “It’s all good.” Love it!

    • eatingtheweek says:

      I’m not even a major Simpsons fan, but that particular episode was very appropriate! Although in real life, I’m the vegetarian Lisa rather than the pig-roasting Homer 😉

  2. To funny, love the honesty. Not sure that you can really claim to modify a recipe you haven’t tried before! Maybe it had a few cracks too! Accidental Spelt Salad sounds original and perfect.

  3. I still think it looks and sounds delish and makes for a great post story :) Definitely makes me want to try spelt.

  4. This happens to me all the time…good intentions gone bad! But you came back in a major way and created an awesome and really creative dish.

    • eatingtheweek says:

      Thanks! The pressure of this meal being the only viable dinner option that night certainly spurred me to figure out Plan B, quickly.

  5. gretchen says:

    some mistakes are how the best inventions are made, right?! sometimes it’s all in a recipe title change. :)

    • eatingtheweek says:

      Exactly! Gives me a great excuse to start an Accidental Recipes series, to make other mess-ups sound intentional.

  6. Serena says:

    Been waiting all week to see how your experiment came out! Looks absolutely delish! Hey with Gruyere!

  7. Sometimes the best kitchen creates are accidents. The trick is to remember how to recreate it. Blog posts are so handy that way!

  8. I think we’ve all been there with those kitchen disasters :-). I made quinoa cakes that mostly managed tomlookmlike hash too, and let me tell you, there’s nothing wrong with hash!! Your recipe looks delicious :-)

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