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Some of my German readers may be familiar with grünkern or a grain called frika or Schwabenkorn. So what is grünkern?


At one time spelt (German=dinkel) was a commonly harvested grain throughout the middle ages. It was a grain of commerce. Some towns in Bavaria are named after it with names like Dinkelsbühl and Dinkelscherben, with both having three ears of spelt on their coat of arms. If you’ve seen ‘bratlinge’ at the shops in Berlin, there’s a good chance it’s made from spelt/dinkel. Before the term became popular, in the early ages everyone was a prepper because they had to save their crops from bad weather, fungus and vermin. In order to save the spelt, some of the unripe seeds were placed in a kiln and dried for emergency rations. This grain is called “grünkern”. Grünkern is not milled into flour but used in soups or gruel, and also veggie burgers because of it’s fat grain. It tastes a little sweeter than fully ripe spelt, because the sugars have not yet been converted into starch (like corn on the cob), and also a little smoky, from the beechwood used to dry it. Beechwoods line whole avenues around Berlin with their tall, sometimes barkless trunks, especially on the streets around Treptower Park and throughout Kleinmachnow.

With that brief introduction, I’d like to share a hearty salad with no added oil, that has inspiration from Salad Samurai.  You could use any grain in the recipe but since I’d never used grünkern before it made it’s way onto my plate. Some of you also know I’m not a huge Brussels sprouts fan, but shredded raw and topped with thickly sliced, braised king trumpet mushrooms (German=steinpilz) this makes a seriously delicious salad using the best of local produce.


Mushroom, Grünkern and Brussels Sprouts
Prep Time: 45 mins not incl cooking time | Servings: 2



1½ cup/750ml  water
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup/100g uncooked grünkern (you could use kamut, barley, sechskornmischung, beans or lentils but adjust cooking time)

Braised Trumpet Mushrooms:

3 large king trumpet mushrooms
¼ cup/50 ml white wine or veg broth
2 tablespoon/50 ml tamari/shoyu/soya sauce
big pinch of dried oregano


2 tablespoon/30 ml Dijon or Dijon-style mustard ( like Bautz’ner Senf Sauce )
1 tablespoon/25 ml lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup/25 ml
1 shallot minced or grated
1  teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of liquid from the braised mushrooms


½ pound/225g shredded Brussels sprouts
4 green onions, green and white parts, sliced on the diagonal
¼ cup/50g chopped toasted walnuts
2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
big grind of black pepper from the mill


For the grains:

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add salt and grains. Boil for 2 minutes, turn down the heat to a low simmer then cover. Cook for 40 minutes (check for doneness). When cooked, drain any remaining water from the pot and set aside keeping warm while you make the rest of the salad.

For the mushrooms:

Give the mushrooms a quick rinse and make sure there’s no dirt on them. Slice the mushrooms thickly.  Heat a large pan over medium-high heat (my preference is a ceramic pan). Adding no oil, sear the mushrooms until they are browned on one side, then flip to brown the other side. They will start to shrink a little and release some of their liquid. Add the white wine, tamari and oregano, and partially cover the pan. Continue cooking over medium heat until most of the liquid is evaporated. Reserve one tablespoon of this cooking liquid to add to the salad dressing. Turn off the heat and set aside.

For the salad:

Whisk the dressing in a big bowl. Add the shredded sprouts and massage together with the dressing for 1-2 minutes. Use your hands! Add the green onions and toasted walnuts. Stir in the warm grünkern. Warm grains are important because they absorb the dressing flavours.

Slice the braised mushrooms into ½”/1.3cm strips. Add the warm grains to the bowl with the Brussels sprouts. Top with the mushroom strips, garnish with chopped chives and freshly ground black pepper.

Here’s a pic of the browned mushrooms done in a dry pan – absolutely no need for any oil!


This is a really filling salad – full of nutrients and goodness.


Make yours an amazing salad – add some love 🙂




Jill DiGiovanni

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