Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ode to Grain Salads

Tonight when I opened the refrigerator, desperately seeking inspiration for a dinner salad to go with our leftover chowder, the grain-lover in me took over.

My wisdom for today: When nothing is going right in the kitchen, when you're blankly staring in the fridge for answers, or when your foodie brain is just fried from a day at work, grains are the answer to your prayers.

As most of you know, I'm quite obsessed with grain salads--quinoa and bulgur in particular. Grains are nutritional powerhouses, and I urge you to experiment with them in your cooking! Quinoa is high in protein, as well as manganese, magnesium, and iron. Bulgur also has a very high mineral content, and is high in fiber (regularity without prunes...hooray!).

Tonight, I had no recipe and no clear picture of what was happening on the cutting board, but I miraculously produced a smorgasboard salad using anything I could find. I call this masterpiece my "Every-Veggie-in-the-Fridge/Grains-Save-the-Day-Salad" (pitiful, I know). It was quick and easy, and delightfully tasty! (see recipe below).

Here are a few quick tips and creative ideas to get you started with grain salads:
  • To enhance flavor, use liquids other than water to cook your grains in, such as chicken or veggie broth. I've also made recipes that called for part orange-juice-part-water combos, or even apple or pineapple juice.
  • Add toasted nuts or seeds to your grains for more toasty-yum crunch. Toast walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or almonds.
  • Mix and match fruit and veggies with your grains. Nectarines, apricots, apples, and pears make great grain salad add-ins. Just about any vegetable will work!
  • Dried fruits are a great addition--raisins, dried apricots, and dried cranberries.
Now, let's get grain-happy!

Every-Veggie-in-the-Fridge/Grains-Save-the-Day Salad
(From my fridge to yours)
  • 1 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 1 can (2 cups) broth (veggie or chicken)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • a little olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 cucumbers, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • handful of chopped, fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Vinaigrette Ingredients:
(courtesy of Cooking Light)
  • 3 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or more if you love garlic!)
  • salt and pepper to taste

1) In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Remove from heat, add bulgur, cover, and allow to sit until all liquid is absorbed (about 20 minutes).

2) OPTIONAL STEP IF YOU DON'T LIKE RAW ONION (like me): Heat the "little bit of olive oil" in a small skillet. Add onion, and lightly sautee for 2-3 minutes until softened. Remove from heat.

3) Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl.

4) Combine bulgur, vegetables, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, and vinaigrette.

5) Love your grainy-lovin' self :)

1 comment:

  1. Yum! This looks great! I love cleaning out the fridge like that!