Now that the weather is finally improving it is time for BBQing and summer salads! Salads that not only feature all our wonderful summer produce but also are full of lentils, beans, wild rice and whole grains.
Whole grains that work well in salads include wild 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 research indicates that the benefits of whole grains include reduced risk of:
• type 2 diabetes risk
• heart disease
• and better weight maintenance.
Often people are discouraged from using whole grains because of the long cooking time required. As most grains cook like rice, a great time saver is to use your rice cooker or pressure 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. While pressure cookers easily cut the cooking time by over half. There are also pre-cooked versions of some whole grains like barley and canned lentils and beans for even more convenience.
Did you know? You can deepen the flavour of grains by toasting them for a few minutes in a skillet over medium heat.
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 pork, beef, chicken or salmon for a light lunch! Enjoy!
Inspired by the classic Middle Eastern salad, this version of Tabouleh includes wild rice, chicken and asparagus.
Recipe and image courtesy of ManitobaChicken.ca.
Full of crunch, thanks to the sunflower seeds and apple, this broccoli salad is a happy marriage of flavour and texture. It travels well, and is a welcome addition to the picnic or potluck table.
Recipe courtesy of Spread The Mustard.
Recipe developed Renee Kohlman from Sweetsugarbean
Sweet, tart strawberries make a delicious addition to a summer salad. If you’re taking this to a party, add nuts just before serving to keep them crunchy.
Recipe and image courtesy of CanolaInfo.
A hearty make-ahead salad ready for lunch.
Recipe courtesy of DairyFarmersofCanada.ca.
This recipe is a sponge for flavour – the longer it sits, the more it absorbs. Make ahead and enjoy chilled or warm.
Recipe and image courtesy of Lentils.org.
This whole-grain side dish offers crunch with a refreshing taste.
Recipe and image courtesy of Canolainfo.
Additional reading: Kitchen Tools: How to Care for Your Skillet