Winter Grains Without The Pains
Grains have gotten sexier over the years and we are certainly eating a lot more of them. While they were once niche, grains like quinoa, farro, and barley are now the norm to use as alternatives to rice. I love combining different types of grains because they each bring their own unique flavors and textures to the table. These nutritious and delicious starches are the foundation to my recipe for a winter grain salad.
The winter season also presents some awesome root vegetables like beets, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower that work great in a salad, either roasted or pickled (check out what is season in your area). Try folding them into your grains with plenty of fresh herbs and a zesty dressing and going to town on this delicious and very simple recipe. For some extra flavor and heartiness, consider adding nuts and dried fruit to the salad; in this recipe, I used spiced pepitas.
INGREDIENTS FOR WINTER GRAIN SALAD
- 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (or 1 cup cooked quinoa)
- 2 stalks celery (about 3/4 pound), diced
- 2 small red beets (or golden beets), peeled, diced
- 1/2 cauliflower florets
- 2 cup brussel sprouts peeled and halved
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon caraway seed
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste (about 1 medium lemon)
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes (quarter any larger tomatoes)
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves (dill optional)
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves (celery leaves optional)
- 2 tablespoon pepitas, toasted
- For garnish: crumbled feta, optional
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Divide the celery, beets, cauliflower and brussels between the two baking sheets. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss. Add a little more if necessary; you want enough to lightly coat the vegetables. Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and caraway. Roast until the veggies are softened and beginning to brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Set the roasted vegetables aside to cool.
Cook the quinoa. Combine the uncooked quinoa with ⅔ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let the quinoa steam with the lid on for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the quinoa with a fork and set aside.
Toast the pepitas. Cook them in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they’re turning lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
In a large serving bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and garlic. Slowly pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil while whisking constantly to emulsify the mixture. Add the tomatoes, quinoa, parsley, mint, roasted vegetables and pepitas, and gently stir to combine. Season generously with salt, pepper and maybe another squeeze of lemon, to taste. Garnish with crumbled feta, if you’d like. Serve at room temperature.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.