May 7, 2023

Mediterranean Ancient Grains Salad

Mediterranean Ancient Grains Salad

An ancient grains salad is one of our favorite sides to make! It's hearty, nutritious, full of fiber and tastes amazing. We like to add roasted peppers to ours and pair it with a pickled pepper oil for added bursts of flavor.

What are Ancient Grains?

While there is no “official” definition of what makes a grain considered an ancient grain, ancient grains are widely accepted as grains that have appeared naturally throughout time that mankind has fed off of for centuries. These grains differ from many of the grains popular in nowadays because they have not been genetically altered or processed to be mass-produced or distributed.

Some ancient grains that are beginning to become popular again are farro, Kamut, sorghum, teff, millet, quinoa, amaranth, and some kinds of rice such as forbidden black rice and heirloom varieties of wild rice. These grains are revered for their nutrient-dense composition and the ease with which the body can process them. They are also naturally healthier than processed grains because they require less pesticides to survive, and have a smaller carbon footprint.

While there are plenty of ancient grains you can pick from when making this salad, we chose to use a combination of Kamut, farro, and quinoa because of the variation in size and texture that each grain presented.

Ancient Grains Used in this Recipe

Kamut: An ancient grain that originated in Egypt. Kamut literally translates to “wheat” in Egyptian and is known for its large size and nutty flavor. Kamut is a great grain to cook because it holds its texture nicely and is packed with protein along with numerous other vitamins and minerals. Kamut can often be tolerated by those who have gluten intolerance even though it is considered to be a relative to wheat.

Farro: Farro is similar to Kamut, but a little smaller, and is packed with both fiber and protein. Farro, which is a staple grain throughout Italy, has a slightly nutty flavor when cooked and maintains a firm bite, similar to al dente pasta when cooked properly.

Quinoa: Quinoa, which has once again risen in popularity, is actually an ancient grain that was considered by the ancient Incans to be a sacred food and has been eaten for thousands of years. Quinoa has become very popular again because of its easy-to-grow nature and the fact that it is packed with vitamins and minerals. Quinoa, unlike some of the other ancient grains, is actually an edible seed that comes from the grain. While it does come from grain, quinoa is still gluten-free and has numerous health benefits such as being a good source of protein, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants.

Ingredients for the Best Ancient Grains Salad

  • Quinoa: We use tri-colored quinoa because of its variations in color and texture.
  • Farro: Any farro will do!
  • Kamut: You can use whatever whole-grain Kamut you have available but make sure that you adapt the cooking process if the directions differ from what we have listed.
  • Herbs: We chose Italian flatleaf parsley and fresh mint for this recipe because of the freshness they bring to the salad. If other herbs are preferred, by all means, use what you prefer or have.
  • Citrus: Both the lemon zest and juice are used here to “brighten” the flavors of the salad and provide a nice burst of flavor. If you don’t have citrus, feel free to replace it with a fine vinegar to balance the flavors of the salad.
  • Olive Oil: The key here is to use high-quality extra virgin olive oil. With olive oil, you can usually taste the difference in quality. I like to use olive oil to provide some body to the salad and use the oil to help “hydrate” the grains and keep them from absorbing all of the liquid and becoming dry.
  • Baby Bell Peppers: Sweet Baby Bell Peppers are preferred here because of their flavor and how they look when cut. If you cannot find them, simply replace them with diced bell peppers.
  • Peppadew Peppers: We use these pickled peppers because of their perfect balance of sweet/spicy/acidic flavors. In the event you can't find Peppadews, you can replace them with another pickled pepper but you may need to adjust the seasoning at the end.

Tips for Making Ancient Grains Salad

  1. Cook each grain separately: grain cooking times typically vary greatly so while we have added generic cooking instructions for each grain above, it is best to defer to the instructions on the package of each of your grains because some brands vary in their processes which can alter cooking times and techniques.
  2. Season each grain type individually: This will allow for even seasoning but be sure to add the salt towards the end of the cooking process because adding salt to the grain before it hydrates can cause an increase in cooking time.
  3. Dress the grains: When adding the remaining ingredients to the grains after cooking them, be sure to dress the grains when they are still warm so that the grains fully absorb the flavors. When you chill the grains, they become less porous and are less likely to absorb all of the flavors.

Cheers and eat well!

Mediterranean Ancient Grains Salad

Made with farro, quinoa, kamut, and roasted red peppers, this Mediterranean Ancient Grains Salad is nutritious, fresh, and easy to make!















  • ½ cup of quinoa
  • ½ cup of farro
  • ½ cup of Kamut
  • ½ of a yellow onion (peeled & small diced)
  • 2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley (picked & chopped)
  • 2 ounces of mint (picked & chopped)
  • The zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt (about 1 tablespoon)

Roasted Baby Peppers

  • 10 baby bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2-4 pinches of salt

Pickled Pepper Oil

  • 7 peppadew peppers
  • 1 tablespoon of peppadew pepper brine
  • 1 ounce of extra-virgin olive oil


To Cook the Kamut:

  1. Place 4 cups of water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Add the Kamut and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for about 35-45 minutes or until the water is almost entirely dissolved and the kamut is al dente (a small bite) (If the water evaporates but the Kamut is not finished cooking, add a cup of water and continue cooking until the Kamut is done.)
  2. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt to the kamut, stir to incorporate evenly, and transfer the cooked kamut to a large bowl and set aside.

To Cook the Farro:

  1. Once you have peeled & diced the onion, place a pot on the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Once the pot is hot, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot, followed by the diced onion. Season the onion with a few pinches of salt and cook on medium-low heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until the onions become soft and translucent.
  2. Once the onions are cooked, add the farro and toast the farro in the pot for about 1 minute.
  3. After the farro is toasted, add the water, bring the water to a simmer, and cook at a low simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the liquid has almost fully evaporated and the farro is no longer crunchy. (If the water evaporates but the farro is not finished cooking, add a cup of water and continue cooking until the farro is done.)
  4. Once the farro is finished cooking, add about ½ teaspoon of salt and transfer the farro into the same bowl as the Kamut.

To Cook the Quinoa:

  1. Place 1 cup of water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Add the quinoa and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water is mostly absorbed and the quinoa has just a little crunch remaining.
  2. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, add about ½ teaspoon of salt to the quinoa, and cover the pot with the quinoa in it. Allow the quinoa to sit at room temperature, covered, for about 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fully cooked.
  3. Once the quinoa is fully cooked, add it to the bowl with the farro and Kamut.

To Finish the Salad:

  1. Once all of the grains have been cooked and transferred into the bowl, add the olive oil, the chopped mint and parsley, and the zest and juice of the lemons. Mix all of the ingredients to combine and adjust the seasoning of the salad to your liking.

Roasted Baby Peppers:

  1. Prepare the peppers by cutting off the tops, and then cutting them into quarters, length-wise.
  2. Place a saute pan on the stove and turn the heat on to high. Allow your pan to get hot and then add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan, followed by the cut peppers. Gently shake/swirl the pan to ensure all of the peppers make contact with the pan and turn the heat down to medium-high.
  3. Cook the peppers for about 2-3 minutes or until the surface of the peppers facedown in the pan becomes a dark brown and looks slightly charred. Flip each pepper so that the uncooked surface is now facedown in the pan and continue to cook for another 2 mins or until both sides are slightly charred.
  4. Season the peppers with a few pinches of salt and either add the peppers to the ancient grain salad or serve on the side.

Pickled Pepper Oil:

  1. Add the peppadew peppers, along with the pickled pepper brine, and the extra-virgin olive oil to your blender and puree until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Serve as a garnish for the ancient grains salad or add it directly to the salad as a “dressing”.


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August 16, 2021
Rocio Rauda
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