Yesterday was the first night I felt okay about turning on the stove. Three days of triple digits due to the combination of heat and humidity — no thanks! This is one of the major reasons why I moved away from Florida, but also miss California dry desert heat, where you can seek solace in the shade. Anyhow.
When summer strikes, it is nice to have some cooked grains or pasta on hand to turn into cold salads later. I don’t always have that luxury of forethought, but it came together for me this time. What follows is a loose recipe, easily adapted to the grains or greens you have on hand. At some point I stopped posting any recipes containing glutenous ingredients, but the truth of the matter is, I’m not gluten-free these days (even if I may not feel great after eating two or three slices of bread during my lunch break at work, but I think that’s a matter of knowing when to stop eating). The gluten-free (and ususally soy-free) nature/identity of my blog for the last couple years became subconsciously intentional, which I think contributed partially to my recent dearth of postings. There are lots of reasons though, which I’ll get into some other time. The good news is, you can use just about any whole grain for this salad, and for my gluten-free friends I’d recommend a combination of brown and wild rice, or quinoa, millet, or amaranth. Whatever you choose, cook it in vegetable stock. Veggie stock makes everything dreamy!
I had kale from our CSA to use, though my original intent was to use red chard. Generally speaking, I’d use half a bunch of the tougher greens like kale or collards, and a whole bunch of the softer greens like chard or spinach since they cook down so much. Also, I think the bit of white wine in the dressing really makes this salad, but if you don’t have any on hand you might try champagne or white wine vinegar. I like using some wine in the sauce and the rest for drinking with dinner, naturally. This is a fairly filling salad and works well as a main course or divided up into smaller portions as a side. It would go well with a fresh green salad (two salads! zomg!) or grilled veggies or even some baked tofu or tempeh.
Summer Grain Salad with Greens and Mustard-Wine Dressing
makes 2 hefty servings, or 4 smaller ones
2 cups cooked whole grains, chilled (I used vegetable broth to cook the spelt berries)
1/2 – 1 bunch greens, stemmed and chopped small
1 tablespoon flax oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon
2-3 tablespoons white wine (I used a pretty dry riesling)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons chopped raw nuts (I used pecans)
Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove, and prepare a bowl of ice water. When the water is boiling, toss in your greens and cook until softened and bright green (shorter time for softer greens, a bit longer for tougher greens). Drain into a colander and immediately plunge the cooked greens into the ice water bath to stop the cooking process and preserve the color. Let them hang out in the water until they’re no longer hot, then remove and squeeze out the excess water with your hands. Separate the greens (it may be easier to rechop them).
Place the grains in a mixing bowl and prepare the dressing: whisk together the oil, garlic, mustard, lemon and wine and pour it over the greens. Toss, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the greens, raisins, and nuts, tossing to distribute. Serve chilled or at room temperature.