Tomato and Einkorn Wheat (or Spelt) Salad Recipe

Tomato and Einkorn Wheat Salad

My weekday lunches revolve around salads like this one, built on grains, fresh vegetables, some sort of protein element, and fresh herbs. I prepare a few servings at a time, and that conveniently takes care of lunch for the next couple of days.

I do try to mix things up so as not eat the same thing all the time, but I admit I’ve become a little fixated on this particular one lately: it is full of flavor, refreshing and filling, with a satisfying mix of textures from the fleshy tomatoes and the chewy grain.

The cereal I am using is petit épeautre (literally, small spelt), an ancient cousin of spelt that goes by the Latin name Triticum monococcum or the common English name einkorn wheat.

Petit épeautre was one of the first cereals cultivated for food*; it is a nutritious grain that thrives on arid, mountainous grounds where little else will grow. The one I buy, an organic petit épeautre de Haute Provence grown in the Southeast of France, is said to have been grown unchanged — without cross-breeding that is — in the area for 9,000 years**. It is protected by a geographical indication, and it hopped aboard the Slow Food Ark of Taste a few years ago.

Einkorn wheat has long been displaced by higher-yield crops, but it is regaining a little popularity in France and elsewhere, as conscious eaters try not to rely so heavily on common wheat, and also because it has been suggested that the grain, although not gluten-free, might be safe for gluten-intolerant patients. (I’ll hasten to note that more research is needed and it is too early to be taking any risks, but these initial findings are hopeful.)

Einkorn wheat is worth seeking out, but if you can’t find it, feel free to substitute spelt (Triticum spelta) or emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum, a.k.a. farro) here, depending on what’s available locally.

While the tomatoes and petit épeautre are permanent fixtures of this salad, the third wheel varies according to what’s on hand: I like it with firm tofu, as pictured, but it is also very good — perhaps better — with feta or mozzarella. You’ll also note that I add a touch of ground cinnamon to the seasoning mix; I like the spicy tickle it brings.

About the cinnamon I use

I am in love with the fresh cinnamon I order from Cinnamon Hill, a small company that specializes in sourcing and selling the highest-quality, freshest cinnamon from Sri Lanka and Vietnam (ordinary cinnamon usually comes from China or Indonesia). I get whole sticks, and grate them with the beautifully crafted (and highly giftable!) cinnamon grater that Cinnamon Hill has designed. Truly, you don’t know what cinnamon tastes like until you’ve tried freshly harvested, freshly grated, top-grade cinnamon, and it makes an amazing difference in this recipe.

* See Alternative Wheat Cereals as Food Grains, G.F. Stallknecht, K.M. Gilbertson, and J.E. Ranney, 1996.

** If you understand French, I recommend reading this interview with einkorn wheat producer Etienne Mabille.

Tomato and Einkorn Wheat (or Spelt) Salad

– 190 grams (1 cup) einkorn wheat or spelt or farro
– one shallot, minced
– one bay leaf
– barely 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use fresh cinnamon from Cinnamon Hill)
– ground chili pepper, to taste
– 4 to 5 ripe medium tomatoes, about 600 grams (1 1/3 pounds)
– a small bunch of chives, snipped
– 170 grams (6 ounces) tofu, or 85 grams (3 ounces) feta cheese or 170 grams (6 ounces) mozzarella, cubed
olive oil
– red wine vinegar
salt, freshly ground pepper

Serves 3 to 4.

Rinse the einkorn wheat, drain, and place in a medium saucepan. Add 480 ml (2 cups) cold water, the minced shallot, the bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 45 minutes, or however long the package says you should; I don’t pretend to know better. Let cool.

(Note: you can double the amounts of grain you cook, and freeze half for another time.)

When the einkorn wheat is at room temperature (or just above), place it in a medium salad bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, add a dash of vinegar, and add the cinnamon and chili pepper. Stir to combine.

Core the tomatoes and cut them into bite-size pieces. I like to keep the seeds and juices because I don’t mind liquids pooling at the bottom of the bowl (I just drink them), but if you prefer, you can run your thumbs in the cavities of the tomatoes to remove the seeds and juices. (In that case be sure to save and filter the tomato water for drinking.)

Add the tomatoes, tofu or cheese, and chives to the salad bowl, sprinkle with a bit of pepper, and toss to combine. Taste, and add a little salt if necessary.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The salad will keep for a day or two, and travels well.

Cooking/baking time: 45 min

  • Happy Birthday! (I remembered we have the same birthday, though I’m 3 years younger) Thanks for another wonderful recipe. Hope you have a wonderful day with lots of gourmet food and delights. :)

    • Thanks, happy birthday to you too! ^_^

  • I have been experimenting with different grains for use in salads – most recently Kamut (a type of wheat). I have the best success when I allow the grains to soak overnight before cooking – that ensures that they are chewy but juicy after cooking. My favorite vinegar for salad dressings is rice vinegar – tangy and slightly sweet!

    • Oh yes, I should have mentioned this: one of the advantages of petit épeautre is that it requires no soaking, so you don’t need to think about it the night before.

      And I like rice vinegar too, but I seldom think to use it in salads. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • I love this kind of combination and and would like to make this. I have also just picked the first yellow courgette from my garden so will be making the tart as well. Thanks.

    • Let us know how either of these turn out!

  • s.

    i love grain salads.
    (and being introduced to new grains … what can i say? food nerd.)
    this looks delicious.

  • This sounds perfect for lunch. I might even throw some lentils in there:)

  • Mmmm… we are big spelt fans (farro, we call it), but usually fix it up with roasted mushrooms + chevre, or roasted butternut + argula, in the cooler months. Love the idea as a mix-in with a summer salad…

  • I like salads with grains, in particular spelt; As regards petit épeautre, I tried it for the first time in France.

    In Poland, there is one popular and very old fashioned dessert served with cooked wheat (it is possible to use spelt and einkorn wheat – fortunately available in stores with organic food). This dessert is called “kutia” and comes from the Ukraine, as far as I remember (cooked wheat mixed with cooked poppy seeds, raisins, almonds, walnuts and so on, and a looot of sugar).

    Why do I mention Kutia? Because I hated it when I was a kid.

    Nowadays I like wheat, spelt, and so on, but I prefer to enjoy them in savory salads, “wheatotto” (??) and soups.

    • Love the term “wheatotto”! :)

  • I am not 100% sure but it sounds like petit épeautre might be available in the US on Anson Mills’ website under the name “farro Piccolo.” Here is a link to purchase.
    And yes, by the way, happy birthday Clotilde :)

    • Thanks for the birthday wishes, and for the tip! I just contacted Anson Mills to ask, and Glenn Roberts confirmed that their “farro piccolo” is indeed triticum monococcum, but the accession they grow is native to what is today Northern Italy.

  • I also subsist on salads. Love them. Would eat only them (however, those who come over for dinner usually want a bit more). This one looks lovely. I’ll have to try it! Thanks!

  • This looks like a lovely combination. I love hearty grains in salads like this.

  • I am a big fan of this type of salad for lunch also. I have had spelt bread and loved it, but I have never made it at home.

    How long do you think the cooked einkorn wheat is okay to keep in the fridge? I have trouble eating the same thing too many days in a row.

    For lunch I just did a steamed zucchini sauteed with fresh Mediterranean spices and then mashed with smoked Gouda bites. Delicious! And a great way to make use of all those squash around this time of year.

    • I might keep the cooked einkorn (seasoned with oil and vinegar, but without the tomatoes and herbs etc.) for up to 3-4 days in the fridge. But it freezes well, too, and perhaps that’s a better option for you. Your zucchini and gouda mash sounds delicious!

  • Looks delicious! I’d be curious to try smoked tofu in this. I love putting that into my grain salads.

  • I have never tried anything like this! Looks fab!

  • Maria Gillette

    Dear Clotilde, not surprising that you discovered Willa Cather, she shares a sentiment similar to your own. And Happy Birthday – the best is yet to come! Thank you for opening this door into your remarkable life.

    • Thank you, Maria! I’m enjoying the book tremendously so far.

  • I posted your link to it on the einkorn facebook page. Clever combination of foods. Thanks again for sharing!

  • Rachel

    As someone who also relies on this type of salad for lunch, I’m very glad to have another delicious recipe to add to my repertoire – thank you!

    Hope you had a wonderful birthday – best wishes for the coming year.

  • I’ve been rather fixated on a winter version of this sort of lunch for the past few weeks (it is the heart of winter in Australia after all). I mix some quinoa with roasted vegetables. This idea did originally come from a recipe in the newspaper a few months ago. That recipe just used roast cauliflower with quinoa, with chives and crumbled cheese. One time that I made it I had some left over roast pumpkin so I tossed that in as well- I know pumpkin isn’t popular in France, but roast pumpkin is a glorious vegetable. Now I can’t make it without the pumpkin. This week I used cauliflower, pumpkin and parsnip. I’m eating heaps more vegetables than I was, and it’s totally delicious. Usually I crumble some goats feta on top. I make it up on Sunday, and it lasts 3-4 days depending on how big my cauliflower is- which means I basically have my work lunches sorted for the week.

  • I apologize for being slightly off topic here, but there’s a great article in today’s “Washington Post” re a backyard wood-burning bread oven that I thought was right up your alley: “Bread winner”.

  • I’m always looking for a new way to do a salad. Sounds delicious, looks even better! God bless.

  • I recently tried a grain call faro, (spelling I think is correct) and it was a fascinating taste treat.


  • Keri

    I made this salad today with farro. It’s so refreshing, and I love the complexity that comes from adding just a taste of cinnamon! I’m already thinking of variations for the rest of the summer… I’ve heard that barley is good for cooling, and I have lots in my cupboard. You could also foreground the Mexican spices by adding cilantro (sorry cilantro haters!) and queso fresco. Mmmm. Thank you for this one, Clothilde!

    • Wonderful suggestions, thanks!

  • actually, as regards the term “wheatotto”; the idea was given by one of Polish bloggers, living in London and studying at a cooking school (I do not remember the name of the school now). Some time ago, the guy made risotto, but instead of rice, he used buckwheat kasha and called the dish “kashotto”….if we use the wheat, we will have “wheatotto”..and do on!

  • This looks so tasty and healthy! I have been trying to incorporate a greater variety of grains, including spelt, into my diet, and I will definitely try this out! I think it would taste awesome with some fresh basil and olvies as well(I am big on the cheese-olive-basil combo :) ).

    • That sounds like a lovely variation. A friend just brought me back some tiny olives from the Arles greenmarket, I’m going to try with a few of those!

  • Madonna

    That looks like a lovely and very delicious salad. I found a Canadian company that produces einkorn wheat (Prime Grains). I’ve e-mailed to ask if their wheat is sold in the States. If I find a source, I’ll post it.

    And happy belated birthday, Clotilde!

  • Tes

    Wow it seems to be a healthy and delicious salad. Can’t wait to try it.

  • I have never used Einkorn wheat, but I’ll have to go hunt for it. I do love farro, though, so I may sub that in if I have no luck in finding it. This pretty much looks like my weekday lunches too. Lately I’ve been doing barley and zucchini lot!

  • I haven’t tasted kutia, my Ukrainian friend speaks of it as something very special that is eaten at Christmas. The recipes vary as to what is added to the basic grain.

  • Sounds fresh and delicious. If you like more Raw and less cheese…here is suggestion…Sprouted Quinoa grain and marinated tofu. Firm tofu cut in cubes and marinated in one or all: lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, liquid amino, soy sous. I marinate no longer then 3 hours in what I have or crave and it becomes….cheese. Actually tofu is a veggie cheese….Why not ;-)

  • Loving the above pic. The salad looks as though its floating on air.


    Thank you,

  • Pascale

    I prepared the whole spelt pack yesterday and had some of it for lunch today at work. It is really really nice, really the kind of lunch I love. The crunchy quality of the spelt is great. I’m glad there’s more for Tuesday, Wednesday … Yes, that’s if my husband does not try it tonight ;-) Such bright lunch box ideas are always most welcome, Clotilde !

    • I’m happy to hear it, Pascale, thank you!

  • Lorna

    I’m gluten-free..although the grain dish sounds delish..I’m going to have to find something else to replace it..perhaps rice?

  • Loved the einkorn wheat history :) thank you! I was wondering why you don’t recommend cooking the wheat with stock – does it result in a funny taste, or do you just not feel it’s necessary?

    • I guess I make this so often I would quickly run out of stock. :) The grain is flavorful enough to me that it doesn’t need it, but if you have stock to use, I’m sure it will be really nice with it.

  • peio revuelta

    Tomatoes are one of the most common vegetables all over the world. They are quickly growing plants and are favorite among most amateur gardeners so as me.
    I will start to grow tomatoes in my farm and now learning watever i can about them, thanks for information. I also
    found another good site about tomatoes and so many other methods of agriculturing, i recommend you to take a look.

  • Joan Moore

    I just finished the last of the petit epeautre/einkorn I brought home with me on my last trip to France and was searching for someplace I could buy it here in the US when I came across this website:
    I have not ordered from them, but their price is the most reasonable that I have found. I love petit epeautre and wish I could get it at my local market.

  • Zoe

    Hi, Clotilde! I love this recipe! I have a busy schedule, so I’m just wondering if I doubled the amounts of grain I cook, which part of the fridge should I keep the left half? And how long can it keep fresh?

    • I admit I don’t think much about “what part of the fridge” — in my tiny fridge, it’s more “wherever I can squeeze it in”. :D As for how long you can keep cooked grains, in general I try to use them within a day or two. Anything longer and I prefer to freeze.

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.