Grain salads are a delicious burst of flavor

These hearty salads are a healthy choice for meals and will keep you satisfied throughout the day

    Salad always sounds perfect for a healthy meal — except that often you end up hungry two hours later.
    Grain salads may be the solution. They are filling, portable enough that you can bring one to work or school for lunch and the variations are endless. And unlike a lettuce salad, which tends to get weighted down by the dressing, the longer a grain salad waits, the more it absorbs the flavors of the dressing.
    And once you have the basic composition down, you can vary the ingredients — that’s the beauty of these salads, they will accommodate whatever cravings you have or ingredients you have on hand.
    When composing a salad, begin with equal parts grains and vegetables, then add half as much proteins and a few accessory ingredients such as cheese, nuts and seeds.
    When choosing your grain, it’s fine to use those left over from another meal, but remember that you want separate, intact grains that hold onto their starch so they’ll absorb dressing properly and won’t release that starch into the rest of the salad.
    Roast, sauté, or grill your vegetables — or use raw ones — but make sure anything cooked has time to cool before combining it with other ingredients.
    Protein is optional, but some good options are beans, lentils or chickpeas, cooked just until tender and drained well, hard-boiled eggs, flaked smoked trout or mackerel or shredded roast chicken, pork or beef.
    Cut or shred your ingredients into pieces small enough that you can get bits of most ingredients with each bite and be generous with the amounts.
    Because grains have an earthy profile, balancing them in a salad is important. Vinaigrettes and citrus-based dressings are good choices.
    As a general rule, for each 1/4 cup of grains, use about two tablespoons dressing. If you’ve incorporated a lot of legumes or more produce, you may want to up the quantity. Keep in mind that the longer a grain salad sits, the more dressing it will absorb.
    Cheese, toasted nuts and seeds, dried fruit, pitted and roughly chopped olives, or capers are a nice touch to top the salad.
    Make sure the grains, beans and vegetables are dry before combining with the dressing to avoid watered-down salad.
    Following are grain salad recipes from

Warm Couscous Salad With Salmon and Mustard-Dill Dressing

2 8-ounce salmon filets, preferably wild
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
6 ounces pearled couscous
3 cups vegetable stock or low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dill, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
1-1/2 cups spinach leaves, chopped in half if large, or left whole if baby

    Season salmon with salt and pepper. Heat 1/3 cup oil in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add salmon, skin-side down, and immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook about six minutes, pressing down gently with a spatula to ensure contact, until the skin is rendered and crisp. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift with a spatula, continue cooking until it lifts easily.
    Flip salmon and cook about one more minute, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 120 degrees for medium rare or 130 degrees for medium. Transfer salmon to a paper towel-lined plate and cool. Once cooled, flake salmon and discard skin.
    Wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining oil and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add shallot and a pinch of salt and cook about two minutes, until softened. Add couscous and cook about one minute, stirring, until lightly toasted and fragrant. Add broth, stir to combine, and adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the couscous is tender. Strain any excess liquid.
    In a large serving bowl, mix together mustard and lemon juice. Stir in couscous, along with dill and spinach, stirring to fluff the couscous and wilt the spinach. Stir in flaked salmon and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with dill and serve right away.


Grilled Vegetable and Jasmine Rice Salad With Herbs and Cashews

For vinaigrette:
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1-1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For salad:
2 3/4-inch-thick slices from a large red onion
3 large carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
15 sugar-snap peas
8 whole tri-color mini bell peppers or 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, quartered
2 jalapeños
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup finely chopped Thai basil or sweet basil
2 cups cooked and cooled Jasmine rice
1/2 cup lightly toasted cashews

    To make vinaigrette, whisk ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
    For a charcoal grill, light one fire starter chimney full of charcoal. When the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat five minutes.
    For a gas grill, set half the burners to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
    Toss onion slices, carrots, snap peas, peppers, and jalapeños with oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Thread snap peas on one skewer; thread mini bell peppers, if using, and jalapeños on second skewer.
    Grill vegetables directly over the flames four minutes, turning once, until browned on both sides.
    When snap peas, peppers, and jalapeños are cool enough to handle, remove skewers. Stem and seed peppers and jalapeños, and discard stems and fibrous strings from snap peas. Chop vegetables coarsely, place in a large bowl and toss with two tablespoons vinaigrette. Let stand five minutes.
    Add cilantro, mint, basil, rice and cashews and toss well. Dress with vinaigrette to taste and toss well again. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with additional vinaigrette on the side.


Whole-Grain Spelt Salad With Leeks and Marinated Mushrooms

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound cremini mushrooms, diced
1  12-ounce leek, diced
2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon picked thyme leaves, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
6 cups cooked whole-grain spelt
2 small Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise, then sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup minced chives
Espelette pepper powder, for garnish, optional

    In a large skillet, heat three tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook about five minutes, stirring, until tender and their water has evaporated. Add leek, garlic and thyme, season with salt and pepper and cook about four minutes, until leak is tender. Transfer to large bowl and stir in 1/4 cup cider vinegar. Let stand 15 minutes.
    In a large bowl, stir together spelt, cucumbers and mushroom-leek mixture. Stir in remaining olive oil, cider vinegar, parley and chives, then season with salt and pepper. Spoon salad into bowls and sprinkle with espelette pepper, if desired.


Warm Whole-Grain Salad With Fennel, Arugula, Prosciutto, and Pecorino

1-1/2 cups rye berries, wheat berries, spelt grains or farro grains
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into quarters
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small bunch arugula, cut into thick ribbons
2 tablespoons pitted chopped olives
1-1/2 ounces prosciutto, excess fat removed, sliced into thin ribbons
1-1/2 ounces pecorino or Parmesan cheese, shaved into thin slices with a vegetable peeler
4 teaspoons juice and 1/2 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons whole grain or dijon mustard

    Place grain in a medium saucepan, cover with water by two inches and season heavily with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook 30 to 40 minutes, until grain is tender. Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and drain grain. Cover the strainer with a lid to keep grain warm.
    Toss fennel quarters with one tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a small rimmed baking sheet and roast in a 375-degree oven about 30 minutes, turning once, until fennel is tender and golden-brown. Allow to cool slightly before removing core from each quarter and slicing into thin slices.
    Transfer grain to a mixing bowl and add chopped fennel, sliced arugula, olives and half of the prosciutto and cheese.
    In a small bowl, combine remaining olive oil, lemon juice and zest and mustard and whisk until smooth. Pour dressing over grain mixture and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    Transfer salad to a serving platter and scatter with remaining prosciutto and cheese. Serve immediately.


Quinoa Salad With Dried Tart Cherries, Mint and Feta in Lemon-Sumac Vinaigrette

For vinaigrette:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For salad:
2 cups cooked, cooled quinoa
1/3 cup chopped dried tart cherries
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup minced fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

    Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl, seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Reserve.
    Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette, a few tablespoons at a time, tossing between additions until salad is dressed. Serve immediately at room temperature.


Warm Farro Salad With Asparagus, Peas, and Feta

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
Pinch dried red chili flakes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup farro
1 quart homemade vegetable stock or low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 bunch kale, trimmed, washed, and cut into 2-inch ribbons
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup slivered almonds
4 scallions thinly sliced, white and light green parts only
1/2 cup crumbled feta

    Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan until shimmering. Add two cups asparagus and chili flakes and cook about four minutes, until lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
    In the same saucepan, place the farro and stock and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and cook about 30 minutes, until farro is tender. Add water if necessary to keep farro covered.
    Drain farro and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in peas and kale and let stand until peas are tender and kale is wilted.
    In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil along with the lemon juice and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Fold vinaigrette into farro, add the cooked asparagus, almonds, scallions, feta and remaining raw asparagus. Let stand five minutes, then toss and serve.


Bulgur Salad With Apricots, Radicchio, Herbs, and Walnuts

1 cup bulgur wheat
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 small head radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
3 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-1/2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Place bulgur in a medium bowl with salt, then pour 1-1/4 cups boiling water over top. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit 25 to 30 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed.
    Combine cooked bulgur with the remaining ingredients and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve cold or at room temperature.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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