Warm grain salad with bacon Credit: Sandy Oliver / BDN

Little grains of barley, farro, wheat, or even rye, boiled until tender but still chewy accompanied by a little dried fruit, onion, cheese, nuts, bacon and snappy dressing makes a good warm or room temperature salad. Serve it alongside a roast or atop lettuce as a stand alone dish.

It’s wholesome as all get out, too.

This version was inspired by a summer salad recipe that my neighbor Carol Pierson provided which called for boiled wheat berries, whole grains of wheat. My pantry has farro, a relative of wheat commonly found in grocery stores and even Reny’s stores in Maine. I usually have barley on hand, too, for soup or a favorite baked barley dish. I thought it time to cook some up, and figured a combination of barley and farro would work, though either one alone would do just as well. Start with one-half cup of dried grain, or cook up a whole bunch, freeze some for soup, or for stir-fry.

While the summer version is on the sweet side, I wanted something really savory, smokey even. So I kept the dried cranberries and currants and turned to smoked salted almonds, smokey bacon, and grated in a bunch of parmesan. Smoked cheese would be terrific. You might have scallions, while I have onions sprouting so I sliced up the green shoots and added them.

You can adorn this salad with shreds of ham, chicken, cubes of fried or braised tofu, toasted pumpkin seeds or tamari flavored sunflower seeds. Live it up.

Warm Farro Barley Savory Salad

Serves 4-6

1 cup each of boiled farro and barley, or 2 cups of one grain

1 medium onion, red or mild white, finely chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries coarsely chopped

1/4 cup dried currants

4-5 scallions, sliced

1/3 cup salted and smoked almonds, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 slices of bacon, fried and chopped

Put the cooked grains into a large bowl and add the onions, cranberries, currants, almonds and parmesan cheese.

In a separate container, whisk together the vinegar, oil and mustard, and add to the bowl of grain, stirring to distribute the dressing evenly.

Let stand at room temperature for a few hours for flavors to blend.

Serve at room temperature and warm gently before serving in a low oven or in the microwave.

Garnish with the chopped bacon for serving.

Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...