Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Great Veggie Grain Salad: My Go-To-Summer (And Fall and Spring) Meal

I am trying to simplify life.  I wanted a dish that was vegetarian, inexpensive, could be prepared in advance and was good enough to be served to company.  And thus my grain salad was born.  It is simple, but can be varied tremendously.
I start with a cooked and cooled grain. My favorites this summer have been farro, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, Israeli couscous, brown rice, etc. I toss in diced vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, red pepper, carrots, fresh peas, sweet corn off the cob, and green beans. I mix it with lemon juice, olive oil salt and pepper. And then I put it into the refrigerator.  It make enough to eat for that first night, but is at its best on the second day as the grain absorbs the citrus and tomato juices.

I put it out on the table as is, and then offer mix-ins on the side.  My favorites are chickpeas, shelled edamame, aleppo pepper (for kick) and/or chopped scallions or chives.

As for proportions, well, I improvise each time.  I use as many veggies as I have on hand. I often let the grains dominate, unless the best tomatoes are on hand. I squeeze in one to two lemons and add to taste. Same with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

The good news: my three year old and guests love it. I can make it and bring it to work for lunch. I always have the ingredients on hand. And, is a start towards making things just a bit easier.

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