This Mediterranean spelt salad is a vibrant and wholesome dish filled with fresh summer ingredients which are then tossed with a simple olive oil & lemon dressing. The chewy texture and nutty, earthy flavor of the spelt grains combine wonderfully with the crispness of the fresh vegetables. A great summer salad to serve as a light main course or side dish at home, a picnic or potluck.

bowl with spelt salad with cucumber, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and parsley

This recipe combines juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, tangy red onions and scallions with cooked spelt. It is then lightly dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice to create just the right balance to make it a satisfying summer salad.

What is spelt?

Spelt is an ancient grain that goes back a very long time. It was first cultivated in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions and was mostly used as a staple to make bread. However, it has recently made a comeback in modern cuisine as a type of health food. It is often used as flour to make bread and other baked goods, but as a grain it also works well in salads, soups or stews.

When cooked it retains a nice chewy texture with a bit of a bite. It also has a lovely earthy, nutty and mildly sweet flavor. All in all, a perfect base for many dishes.

glass bowl with cooked spelt grains

Which ingredients to use

  • Spelt: The base ingredient of this salad. You can use either whole grain or pearled spelt. Both are fine but need different cooking times, which should best be checked on the instructions of the packet.
  • Red onion: Red onion has a mild and sweet taste but also adds a nice variation of color when combined with the other ingredients. You can also use sweet white onion or shallots as a substitute.
  • Tomato: Use ripe, juicy tomatoes which are great for salads, like Roma, beefsteak, Heirloom or vine tomatoes. Even small cherry tomatoes will work fine in this recipe.
  • Cucumber: English cucumbers are great for this dish. Remove the seeds but leave the skin as it adds crunchiness, taste and color. The skin of English cucumbers is relatively thin and tender and can easily be eaten in a salad.
  • Bell pepper: Any color will be great. I have used an orange bell pepper, but red or yellow will be perfect as well and will also brighten up this dish. Green bell peppers are slightly bitter but can be used if you prefer.
  • Scallions: Adds sweetness and a slight tanginess but also lots of color to this spelt salad. Use both the green and white parts of the scallions.
  • Fresh herbs: I have used parsley in this salad for its freshness and beautiful color, but you can also use any other fresh Mediterranean herbs like basil, oregano, thyme or marjoram according to personal preference.
  • Olive oil: A good quality extra virgin olive oil is the base of the dressing and gives that extra Mediterranean aroma.
  • Lemon juice: Use either fresh lemon juice or a mild vinegar like apple cider or white wine vinegar.
  • Salt and pepper: Kosher salt and freshly cracked black peppers for seasoning.

How to make Mediterranean spelt salad

Note: All the exact quantities of the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

This salad is relatively easy to make. The total time will depend largely on the time of cooking and cooling of the spelt.

  • Cook the spelt: Cook the spelt in salty water according to the instructions on the packet. Make sure to cook it al dente, or that it becomes chewy but still has a bit of a firm bite. Drain if needed and set aside to cool.
  • Chop the vegetables: Finely chop the red onion and thinly slice the scallions. Trim off both ends of the cucumber, slice in half and with a teaspoon remove the seeds. Finely dice the cucumber. Cut the tomatoes in small chunks, but no need to remove the tomato seeds as these will add extra flavor to the dressing. Remove the seeds and white membranes of the bell peppers and finely dice.
spelt mixed with scallions, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions in a glass bowl
  • Combine the salad: In a large bowl, combine the cooked and cooled spelt with the cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, scallions and bell peppers. Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
  • Garnish and serve: Serve chilled or at room temperature with a garnish of fresh herbs.

What other dressings can I use?

For this Mediterranean summer salad with spelt I kept the dressing rather simple in order to maintain the lovely nutty taste of the spelt.

If you would love some other options, this honey mustard dressing is absolutely divine with this salad, but gives a bit more of a kick. You could also give it a drizzle of balsamic syrup, which is also very easy to make yourself with this homemade balsamic glaze recipe.

close up of a bowl of spelt salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions and scallions with parsley on top

Can I make this salad in advance?

Absolutely. This salad is great to make in advance and therefore perfect for a picnic, a potluck or for a summer barbecue. You can cook the spelt in advance, leave to cool to room temperature and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container. When ready to serve, mix the other ingredients and toss with the dressing.

Or you can make this spelt salad in advance ready to serve and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Just keep in mind that the tomatoes might get a bit soggy.

How to substitute spelt?

While spelt is the base of this ‘spelt’ salad, you can substitute it with other grains like farro, barley, quinoa or brown rice. They all have very similar tastes, and farro and barley even have a similar chewy texture.

close up of a bowl of spelt salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions and scallions with parsley on top

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close up of a bowl of spelt salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions and scallions with parsley on top
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Mediterranean spelt salad with tomato, cucumber and peppers

This Mediterranean spelt salad is a vibrant and wholesome dish filled with fresh summer ingredients which are then tossed with a simple olive oil & lemon dressing. The chewy texture and nutty, earthy flavor of the spelt grains combine wonderfully with the crispness of the fresh vegetables. A great summer salad to serve as a light main course or side dish at home, a picnic or potluck.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Light Meal
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: Sabine

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (or 130 grams) spelt uncooked
  • 1 medium cucumber finely chopped, seeds removed
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper finely chopped, seeds removed
  • ¼ cup (or 25 grams) scallions finely sliced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped

Dressing

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • Cook the spelt in salted water according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and let it cool.
  • Add the cooked spelt in a large bowl and combine with the chopped cucumber, red onion, bell pepper, tomatoes and scallions. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat well.
  • Serve chilled or room temperature with fresh parsley as garnish.

Notes

  • Cooking time: The total cooking time will largely depend on the type of spelt you are using. 
  • Cucumbers: No need to peel the cucumbers.
  • Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. 
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