Maria Speck

Maria Speck is the award-winning author of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.  It received the coveted Julia Child Award and the Health and Special Diet award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), as well as a Gourmand Award. She was also recognized with an honorable mention as a Food Hero in her hometown of Cambridge, MA. Raised in Greece and Germany, Maria has a lifelong passion for whole grains. She is a veteran journalist and food writer, and has contributed to Gourmet, Saveur, and Gastronomica. She blogs at



The award-winning author of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, Maria Speck makes cooking with ancient grains faster, more intuitive, and easier than ever before in this collection of recipes, most of which are gluten-free.
From black rice to red quinoa to golden Kamut berries, ancient grains are showing up on restaurant menus and store shelves in abundance. Yet in home kitchens, many fear that whole grains are too difficult and time-consuming to prepare. In Simply Ancient Grains, Maria makes cooking with these fascinating and nourishing staples easy and accessible with sumptuous recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Her family-friendly dishes are Mediterranean-inspired and delicious, such as Spicy Honey and Habanero Shrimp with Cherry Couscous; Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion, and Pine Nuts; and Red Rice Shakshuka with Feta Cheese. Maria’s tips and simplified approach take whole grain cooking to the next level by amplifying the flavor and enduring beauty of these nutritious grains.

“Maria Speck is my whole grain guru. She conjures the appeal and sumptuousness of these wondrous staple foods in a way that makes me want to run to the kitchen immediately and start cooking. Her passion, knowledge, and good taste are reflected on every page in this beautiful book that makes eating whole grains more approachable and inspiring than ever.”—Ellie Krieger, RD, host of The Food Network’s Healthy Appetite and author of Weeknight Wonders

Simply Ancient Grains is an ode to bringing whole grains into the modern kitchen, not simply as ‘health food,’ but as nourishing and delicious additions to the home cook’s pantry. The artful recipes make use of unique flavors and textures, weaving together the exotic and the familiar. For the whole grain lover, this book is a trustworthy reference and an inspiration.”—John Becker and Megan Scott, authors of Joy of Cooking

“Maria Speck brings a wealth of surprise to grains with her vivid sense of color, and her attention to texture and, of course, to taste. All of these elements come into view in an utterly fresh way. What an innovative book!”—Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy and The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

"Speck simplifies cooking with grains without sacrificing flavor. Her recipes—including minted barley and fennel stew with marinated feta, New England cider mussels with fresh cranberries and bulgur, and walnut spelt biscotti with olive oil—are deliciously nourishing and not to be missed."Library Journal, Starred review

"...the ultimate grain decoder."Real Simple

Rights: Ten Speed Press, World


ANCIENT GRAINS FOR MODERN MEALS: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries, and More (2011)

  • A New York Times notable cookbook for 2011
  • A Washington Post top 10 cookbook for 2011
  • Cooking Light, one of the best 100 cookbooks of the past 25 years
  • Gourmand Awards, winner USA Mediterranean category
  • Winner of two IACP awards: The Julia Child First Book Award and Health & Special Diet

In this inspired and highly personal book, Maria Speck draws on food traditions from across the Mediterranean and northern Europe to reveal how versatile, satisfying, flavorful, and sophisticated whole grains can be.  

Food writer Maria Speck’s passion for propelling Old World staples such as farro, barley, polenta, and wheat berries to the forefront of new American cooking is beautifully presented in Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. Rustic but elegant dishes--Creamy Farro with Honey-Roasted Grapes, Barley Salad with Figs and Tarragon-Lemon Dressing, Lamb Stew with Wheat Berries in Red Wine Sauce, and Purple Rice Pudding with Rose Water Dates--are sure to please discerning palates and become favorites in any whole grain repertoire. 
Food lovers and health-conscious home chefs alike learn how to integrate whole grains into their busy lives, from quick-cooking quinoa and buckwheat to the slower varieties such as spelt and Kamut. The stunning flavors and lively textures of whole grains are enhanced with natural ingredients such as butter, cream, and prosciutto--in moderation--to create lush Mediterranean-inspired recipes. Maria’s approachable style and generous spirit make this collection of time-honored, updated classics a treasury for today’s cooks.

"We are, happily, in the midst of a whole grain renaissance. But we also know that people who are still awakening to whole grains need great recipes, derived from tradition yet re-imagined for the contemporary palate. Thanks to Maria Speck we now have such a book."—Peter Reinhart, author of Whole Grain Breads and Artisan Breads Every Day
"Maria Speck has brought her enormously talented culinary skill and multicultural background to these raw ingredients, transforming them into appealing and do-able recipes that will entice you to the kitchen.  If you want to include more whole grains in your diet, or you’re not familiar with farro, barley, quinoa, and the rest—let alone how to cook them—this is the perfect book."—Clifford A. Wright, author of the James Beard Cookbook of the Year A Mediterranean Feast
"Maria Speck really knows her whole grains! She does a terrific job of introducing the reader to this fascinating food group, providing excellent recipes (many Mediterranean-inspired) as well as personal stories drawn from her upbringing that will reward the home cook."—Paula Wolfert, author of Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking, Mediterranean Grains and Greens, and The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen
"Maria’s beautiful book made me hungry at first read. It will not only inspire you to stock your kitchen with a varied assortment of whole grains to simmer, steam, boil, and soak, but will give you an entirely new appreciation of their long and varied history and their infinitely delicious flavors and textures. I want to cook everything Maria writes about."—Luisa Weiss, creator of The Wednesday Chef

Rights: Ten Speed Press, World