elevating the status of the salad

Tag Archives: grain

I like to pack my lunch for work, but get tired of sandwiches. As an easy alternative, I will sometimes make a hearty salad to have a few bites of as part of dinner, and then take some to go for lunch the next day. Thanks to Food and Wine magazine’s August 2011 issue for this recipe. You can substitute pretty much any large grain for the Israeli couscous (such as freekah or coarse bulgur). Do you have any other creative lunch ideas? Post them below or send me a message! 


  • 6 cups packed arugula (6 ounces)
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous (12 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pints small tomatoes (cherry or grape), halved
  • 4 yellow or orange tomatoes, cut into 1-inch dice


  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the 6 cups of arugula and blanch for 10 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the arugula to a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain thoroughly.
  2. Add the Israeli couscous to the boiling water and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the couscous and spread it out on a large baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss to prevent it from clumping. Let the couscous cool to room temperature.
  3. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool.
  4. Squeeze the excess water from the blanched arugula and coarsely chop it. Transfer the arugula to a food processor. Add the pine nuts, garlic, cheese, and 1/2 cup olive oil and process until the pine nuts are finely chopped. Season the arugula pesto with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer the couscous to a large serving bowl and stir in the arugula pesto. Gently fold in the tomatoes.

While you have the feta and mint ready, here is another summer salad. This one was adapted from Peter Berley’s class. He used farro (spelt) but I had quinoa on hand. Also, he used golden beets–so that the color would not bleed into the rest of the salad. I only had red beets, so I did just added the beets on top at the end, rather than mixing them in with the cucumbers and quinoa.



  • 3-4 beets, cooked, peeled, and diced

Beet Preparation Note (can be done ahead of time and stored in fridge) I roasted in an aluminum foil pouch for about an hour at 400 degrees, testing for done-ness when a fork glided easily through the beets. Depending on the size, it takes about an hour or more. Then, I allowed them to cool. Once cool, I used a paper towel to remove the skins from the beets, and diced.

Mint Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper


  1. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, cucumbers and vinaigrette. Mix well. Top with beets. Refrigerate until cold.
  3. Add the feta, dill, and parsley to the salad. Season with extra lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Top with beets.

Here is another great grain salad  from Peter Berley’s Go With The Grain cooking class at The Brooklyn Kitchen.


In the class, we used freekah instead of bulgur. You can also substitute Israeli couscous. This salad can be served hot, warm, or cold. 

1 cup medium or coarse bulgur wheat

1/3 teaspoon of salt

One 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 bay leaves, halved

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the bulgur and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cover the pan, and simmer for 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and let rest, covered, until all water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

3. In an 8 to 10-inch oven-proof saute pan over medium heat, stir together the rest of the ingredients and season with more salt. When the chickpeas begin to sizzle, transfer the pan to the oven. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

4. Remove and discard the bay leaves, and stir the bulgur into the chickpeas. Season with salt to taste, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Every month, I get a package of fresh organic fruit as part of the fruit of the month club. (Thanks, mom and dad!) This month, I received a giant box of sweet and juicy nectarines. I made a fruit salad with some of them, mixed with blueberries and raspberries from the CSA. I also wanted to incorporate the nectarines into a savory salad as well. This salad is protein-packed, vegan, and gluten free. A triple threat.

Grain salads can be a little bit more work than green salads because you need to cook the grains. I recommend making a large batch of grains ahead of time, and keeping it in the fridge. Then you have ready-to-go grains which you can use for salads throughout the week.

The Salad

1 cup quinoa

1 2/3 cups water

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1/3 cup chopped parsley

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

2 ripe nectarines, cut in 1/2 inch cubes

1/4 cup raisins

The Dressing

zest of 2 limes

juice of 2 limes

2 tsp honey

2 tsp rice vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil

additional salt and pepper to taste

1. Let quinoa soak in a bowl of water for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Rinse thoroughly and allow to drain. (This step takes out the bitter flavor of quinoa. If your quinoa is pre-rinsed, you can skip this step.)

2. Boil 1 2/3 cups water and then add quinoa. Bring to a boil again, and then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the “halo” separates from the seed and all of the water has been absorbed. Spread quinoa out on a baking sheet, and allow to cool completely.

3.  Toast the almonds and pumpkin seeds on a skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally. They are ready when the almonds start to turn golden, and the green pepitas begin to turn brown .Watch closely, as they will both burn quickly. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. Mix the quinoa with the rest of the salad ingredients.

5. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients through paprika. Then, slowly whisk in olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Toss dressing with the salad, and serve room temperature or chilled.

Thanks to Peter Berley for this amazing recipe!

I had the pleasure of attending Peter Berley’s “Go With the Grain” class at the Brooklyn Kitchen earlier this week. He is the author of The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, and The Flexitarian Table. I learned how to create a variety of grain salads from a real expert. My friend JL and I teamed up to create the tiny vegetable salad. This was my favorite, and not only because of my love of all things miniature. We sharpened up on our knife skills, and then diced our way through the class to create this beautiful and healthy salad. I re-created it this morning to bring to a vegan-hosted July 4th BBQ.

I learned a lot about making grain salads. Here are a few take-aways from the class:

1. “Water is the flavor killer in salads, ” according to Berley. In order to avoid this, I patiently drained and dried all vegetables in colanders and between clean kitchen towels. I preemptively murdered the heck out of the water. The results are very flavorful!

2. When making grain salads, the ratio of acid to oil should be equal, or even add more acid. The grains soak up a lot of the flavor. This is way different from making a green salad, where the ratio is typically much more oil to acid.

Serves 6

Cook barley: I put 1 cup of barley into 2 1/2 cups of boiling water, and then let simmer for 35-40 minutes. Then, rinse and drain completely. His recipe says to add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the water when you add the barley. I omitted this salt.

1 medium yellow squash, seeded and diced

1 medium zucchini, seeded and diced

1/3 c diced red onion

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 T thinly sliced scallion

2 T minced parsley and dill (or just one of these)

3 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T umeboshi vinegar (this is a delicious vinegar which is a by-product of pickled plums)

2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 t fresh black pepper

1 or 2 bunches of watercress, for garnish

Add the squash, zucchini, and onion to a steamer, and steam for 3-4 minutes. Shock the vegetables in a large bowl to stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly. I let sit between clean kitchen towels to get as much water out as possible.

In a large bowl, combine the steamed vegeables, barley, cucumber, bell pepper, scallion, and dill/parsley.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, and black pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. Garnish with watercress.