Sunday, June 30, 2013

Break out the Whole Grains for Summer Salads

Now that the weather is finally improving it is time for barbequing and summer salads! Personally, I love the salads that are full of lentils, beans, rice, nuts, dried fruit and whole grains! I am not sure if it is my age but I no longer lump whole grain foods into healthy foods I should eat but rather delicious foods I want to eat.

Whole grains that work well in salads include wild rice, brown rice, bulgur, wheat berries, farro, barley, corn, millet and quinoa. Their earthy, some say, nutty flavour and chewy texture combined with fresh vegetables and fiery spices create dishes that are not only tasty but satisfying.  And don’t forget healthy… whole grains provide protein, fiber, iron, B vitamins and more.  According to the Whole Grain Council ( research indicates that the benefits of whole grains include:
·      stroke risk reduced 30-36%
·      type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
·      heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
·      better weight maintenance
Most studies show the best benefit from consuming 3 servings of whole grains daily, however, some studies even showed reduced risk from including just one serving!

Often people are discouraged from using whole grains because of the cooking time required. As most grains cook like rice, a great time saver is to use your rice cooker. Rice cookers magically cook until all the water has been completely absorbed by the rice or grain, and then automatically switch over to the warm setting hold your rice or grain until you are ready serve. Generally, you can cook most grains in the rice cooker similarly to how you would cook them on the stove top. Some grains like millet and quinoa must be cooked more carefully so that they retain their shape and don’t turn to mush. Bulgur and couscous (technically a pasta) simply need to be soaked in hot water for a few minutes to cook.

One thing I have discovered recently is that you can deepen the flavour of grains by toasting them for a few minutes in a skillet over medium heat. I have done this with nuts for years. One last idea would be to cook whole grains in larger amounts and freeze or store extra in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days. Speaking of storage, if you do have leftover salad, whole grain salads keep well and taste even better the next day.  Add leftover chicken, salmon or shrimp for a light lunch! For this article, I have chosen salad recipes with a variety of whole grains and savoury flavours!  Enjoy!

Cilantro and Black Bean, Farro Salad
Farro is a type of wheat common in Italian cooking. It has a nutty flavor with a slightly crunchy texture. Although it’s a distant cousin to the wheat berry, it cooks in a fraction of the time. Farro can be found in health food stores or substitute with wheat berries!
2 cups water 500 mL
1/2 cup uncooked faro or wheat berries 125 mL
1 1/4 cups grape tomatoes, quartered 300 mL
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro 250 mL
4 oz fresh mozzarella petite balls or fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes 125 g
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion 125 mL
1 medium jalapeno, seeded, (if desired) and finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp canola oil 45 mL
1 tsp grated lime zest 5 mL
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice 30 mL
1 Tbsp cider vinegar 15 mL
1/2 tsp salt 2 mL
1 (15-oz/443 mL) can no-salt added black beans, rinsed and drained
1.    In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Add the farro, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15-18 minutes or until al dente. Drain in fine mesh sieve and run under cold water to cool completely. Shake off excess liquid.
2.    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cilantro, mozzarella, onion, jalapeno, garlic, canola oil, zest, lime juice, vinegar, and salt. Stir in the farro and beans. Toss gently, until just blended. Serve immediately for peak flavors and texture.

Cook’s Tip: For peak color and texture, do not add the black beans until time of serving. The acidity in the other ingredients will cause the beans to “muddle” slightly onto the other ingredients if allowed to stand for longer than 30 minutes.
Yield:  10 servings.
Serving size: ½ cup (125 mL).

Quinoa, Black Bean & Mango Salad
Quinoa, an ancient “grain” that’s actually an edible seed related to beets and spinach, makes a fantastic base for a salad. Its mild, nutty flavour lends itself well to soups, grainy breakfast cereals and anything in which you’d use rice or couscous. With a lighter, fluffier texture than most whole grains, quinoa is also a rich source of protein.

  • 1 cup quinoa 250 mL
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 small red or yellow pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups (packed) baby spinach, torn or sliced 500 mL
  • 1 cup (half 19 oz/540 mL can) black beans, rinsed and drained 250 mL
  • 1/4 English cucumber, chopped
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped, or 1/4 cup chopped red onion 60 mL
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil 45 mL
  • 2 Tbsp white wine or white balsamic vinegar 30 mL
  • 2 tsp honey 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder or paste 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp cumin 1 mL
1. Rinse quinoa well under cool water in fine sieve or in several changes of water. Drain well. 

2. In large pot of boiling salted water set over medium heat, cook quinoa until tender but still firm to bite, about 15 minutes. It’s done when germ separates, making it look like a curly Q. 

3. Drain well and return quinoa to pot off heat. Cover with tea towel and replace lid, allowing it to steam and producing fluffy quinoa as it cools. 

4. In large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, mango, pepper, spinach, black beans, cucumber and onions. 

5. To make dressing, combine canola oil, vinegar, honey, curry and cumin in jar or small bowl and shake or whisk to blend. 

6. Drizzle salad with dressing and toss until well coated.

Yield: 8 servings. Serving size:  1/2 cup (125 mL). 


3-Grain Salad with Goat Cheese
If you haven’t tried the new “old” grains, now’s the time…they’re fun to eat and when you mix them up it makes an intriguing presentation (and it’s loaded with fiber and protein, too!)
4 cups water 1 L
1/2 cup dried lentils, sorted for stones and shriveled lentils and rinsed 125 mL
1/3 cup uncooked quick cooking bulgur 75 mL
1/3 cup quinoa 75 mL
1/3 cup quick cooking brown rice 75 mL
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion 125 mL
Zest of 2 large lemons
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 45mL
1/4 cup canola oil 60 mL
1/4 tsp dried pepper flakes 1 mL
1 cup chopped fresh mint or Italian parsley 250 mL
1 tsp salt 5 mL
3 oz hard or semi-soft goat cheese, crumbled 90 g
12 large Romaine lettuce leaves
1.    In a large saucepan, bring water and lentils to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the bulgur, quinoa and rice. Cover and cook for 12-13 minutes, or until the lentils are just tender. Drain in a fine mesh sieve. Run under cold water to cool quickly. Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl.
2.    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the bell pepper, onion, lemon zest and juice, canola oil and pepper flakes. Stir until well blended.
3.    Stir in the drained lentil mixture and the mint. Toss gently or until well blended. Season with salt. Gently fold in the goat cheese and serve on lettuce leaves.
Yield: 12 servings.
Serving size: 1/2 cup (125 mL) lentil mixture and 1 lettuce leaf per serving

Asian Barley and Wild Rice Salad
1 cup wild rice 250 mL
4 cups chicken broth 1 L
1 cup pot or pearl barley 250 mL
2 medium red peppers, chopped
¼ cup chopped green onions 50 mL
2 cups frozen corn, thawed 500 mL
1/3 cup  soy sauce 75 mL
1/3 cup rice vinegar 250 mL
¼ cup sesame oil 50 mL
2 cups chopped pecans 500 mL
1.    In a large saucepan, bring wild rice and chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add barley and continue simmering for an additional 40 minutes. Cover and let stand until all moisture is absorbed. Cool.
2.    Put barley mixture in a large serving bowl. Add all remaining ingredients except pecans; mix well. Place in fridge for two hours or overnight. Add pecans just before serving.
Hint: To toast pecan pieces, preheat oven to 350F (180C). Spread pecans on a cookie sheet. Place in oven and set timer for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Makes approximately 12 servings.
Source: Alberta Barley Commission

Wheat Berry and Apple Salad
This whole-grain side dish offers crunch with a refreshing taste.
1 cup wheat berries 250 mL
1/2 tsp salt 2 mL
3 cups water 750 mL
1 cup finely chopped celery 250 mL
2 cups finely chopped apple 500 mL
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint 125 mL
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion 125 mL 
2 Tbsp canola oil 30 mL
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 45 mL
2 Tbsp apple juice 30 mL
1 Tbsp honey 15 mL
2 tsp finely minced fresh ginger 10 mL 
1.    In glass or ceramic bowl, place wheat berries. Cover with 2 inches (5 cm) water and let sit overnight in refrigerator to soften. In morning, drain water. Place berries in small saucepan, add salt and 3 cups (750 mL) water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 45-55 minutes or until tender. Drain any excess water and place berries in large mixing bowl.
2.    Add celery, apples, mint and green onion and stir to combine.
3.    In small bowl, whisk canola oil, vinegar, apple juice, honey and ginger together. Pour over salad. Flavours improve if salad is refrigerated for up to 4 hours prior to serving. 
Yield: 8 servings. Servings Serving Size: 3/4 cup (175 mL).

Rosemary-Feta Pearl Couscous Salad
Pearl couscous looks just like that…pearls! These tender pearls of pasta are tossed with crunchy red peppers and cucumber, tender white beans and a generous amount of herbs, feta and a splash of fresh lemon! You’ll never think of pasta salad the same!
2 cups water 500 mL
3/4 cup uncooked whole wheat or regular couscous 175 mL
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion 75 mL
1 cup lightly packed spinach, coarsely chopped 250 mL
1/2  (15-oz/443 mL) can no-salt added navy or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary 15 mL
1 medium garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp canola oil 30 mL
1 tsp grated lemon zest 5 mL
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 30 mL
1 Tbsp cider vinegar 15 mL
1/2 tsp salt 2 mL
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper 1 mL
¾ cup reduced fat feta, crumbled 175 mL
1.    In a medium saucepan, bring the water to boil over high heat. Stir in the couscous, return to a boil, reduce heat, cover tightly and simmer 10-12 minutes or until tender. Drain in fine mesh sieve and run under cold water to cool completely. Shake off excess liquid.
2.    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine pepper, cucumber, onion, spinach, beans, rosemary, garlic, canola oil, zest, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper.
3.    Stir in the couscous and toss until well blended. Gently stir in the feta.
Yield:  10 servings.
Serving size: ½ cup (125 mL).

Warm Curried Lentil Salad
1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
1 (whole) small red onion, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp Madras curry powder 15 mL
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar 45 mL
1 Tbsp  honey 15 mL
1½ cup fully cooked lentils or canned lentils, drained and rinsed 375 mL
dash - sea salt and ground black pepper
5 cups arugula 1.25 L
1 Tbsp lemon juice 15 mL
½cup dried cranberries (reserve 1 Tbsp/15 mL for garnish) 250 mL
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (reserve 1 Tbsp/15 mL for garnish) 60 mL
1. Sauté onion with oil and a dash of salt and black pepper for 3-5 minutes on medium heat, or until the onions are rendered and golden. Add the curry powder and continue to cook for another 5 minutes on low-medium heat. Deglaze with red wine vinegar. Add the honey and lentils. Continue to stir until the lentils are heated through.
2. In a separate bowl, combine arugula, oil, lemon juice, cranberries, and seeds, and season with salt and black pepper.
3. Combine reserved onion mixture with greens. Plate the salad quickly, garnish with dried cranberries and toasted seeds and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

No comments:

Post a Comment