Food for Thought
Buttery salmon, sweet-tart berry dressing, crunchy nuts, chewy spelt and sun-kissed vegetables mingle to create an Instagram-ready summer salad that can be enjoyed for lunch or as a light dinner on a sultry night. And each bite packs plenty of health benefits. Research published in 2016 in The BMJ found that consuming more whole grains (like spelt) is associated with a lower risk of death from maladies including cancer and heart disease, whereas mega-healthy omega-3 fats (found in salmon) can help to keep blood pressure levels in check, according to a 2016 study in the Journal of Nutrition. And let’s not overlook the goodness of blueberries, which infuse the dressing with antioxidant firepower.
¾ C spelt berries
1 lb salmon fillet
8 C baby spinach or other tender salad greens
⅓ C sliced mint or basil
1 cucumber, diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
¾ C fresh or frozen (thawed) blueberries
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 t Dijon-style mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ t cayenne (optional)
¼ C sliced almonds
2 oz crumbled soft goat cheese (optional)
Place spelt and 3 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered until spelt is tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes. Drain spelt and set aside. Build a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Grease grill grate. Season salmon flesh with salt and pepper and lightly brush skin with oil. Place salmon on grill grate, skin-side down, and heat until just barely cooked at its thickest part, about 8 minutes. Alternatively, cook salmon in a 400°F oven on a greased or parchment paper–lined baking sheet for 12 minutes or until cooked through. Remove salmon from heat, and when cool enough to handle, gently break apart the flesh into chunks.
Divide salad greens, mint or basil, cucumber, tomatoes, spelt and salmon among serving plates. Place blueberries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, cayenne if using, and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper in a blender, and blend until smooth. Drizzle dressing over salads and sprinkle almonds and goat cheese on top.
Key: C = Cup; T = tablespoon; g = gram; mg = milligram