This is an enormously useful, wholesome salad. Why enormously useful? Because it’s the sort of salad which can successfully accommodate a serious fridge clear out, and almost the more that is thrown at it the more successful it becomes.

So, for example, recently recovering from a particularly virulent bout of flu, I made this salad and then cleared out:

• Some nearly sprouting shallots
• Some chicken and avocado salad (post to come)
• Some cooked spinach
• Some elderly flat-leaf parsley


I don’t know, obviously, what is in your fridge which has been there for too long, but I’m fairly sure, within reason, that this salad would welcome a lot of that as well. The ancient grains (use barley or spelt) act as blank-canvas bulk, while the sweet peppers and berries are strong enough to balance out the brightness of the chorizo and the capers, with this equilibrium being powerful enough to give the dish structure.

If you haven’t already thrown in pretty much the kitchen sink, this ancient grain salad would go well with some smoked chicken or York ham. Without the chorizo it’s a good dish for vegetarians.

As we were enjoying this dish the Chief Correspondent commented that (minus the chorizo) it was a classic dish which might form a part of the EAT-lancet diet. I can assure you that, in spite of this, it is highly recommended!

It will keep in the fridge for up to a week, and it also freezes well.

You may also be interested in a recipe for No-need to Knead Bread, which is made out of spelt flour. It’s another recipe which sounds suspiciously new-age, but is, in fact, awfully good!


Recipe for A Cornucopia of Ancient Grains, Peppers, Sweet Berries, and Everything Else

Serves 2


• 100g/⅔ cup dried cranberries or sour cherries (or even raisins)
• 120 ml/½ cup orange juice
• 2 red or orange peppers
• 5 cm/1” mild chorizo (optional)
• 150g/¾ cup pearled barley or spelt
• 2 tbsps roughly chopped walnuts
• 2 tbsps capers – well-rinsed
• 1 clove garlic crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
• Freshly ground black pepper, or a pinch of Urfa pepper flakes
• 4 tbsps peppery olive oil, plus more oil for frying
• 1 tbsp thick balsamic vinegar, or pomegranate molasses


1. Warm the orange juice and add the dried berries – leave for an hour or two or overnight.
2. Deseed the peppers and cut them into strips. Fry, and then chop.
3. Tip the spelt into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Salt the water, bring the lot to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes (follow the packet instructions).
4. Make the dressing by adding the garlic and salt; the pepper, the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar to the orange juice and berries.
5. Drain the spelt, add the capers and chopped peppers, and toss the lot in the dressing.
6. Taste and adjust the seasoning.


barley salad recipe