From the Culinary Underground: Our famous grain and nut salad

by susan on May 23, 2013

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[This is the latest in an ongoing guest series brought to you by Southborough’s Culinary Underground. In this installment, Chef Lori shares a recipe for a healthy and tasty grain salad.]

Quinoa is the current darling of the grain world. It’s the only grain that’s also a complete protein so vegetarians like it (although it is not protein-dense, making it a healthy grain option but not a protein substitute). Gluten-free eaters love it, too. We’ve been using it for years and really love it in this salad of ours which is rich in all kinds of good things. We’ve been toting this mixture to events forever; it’s a good introduction to quinoa and people always love it. (Except for one person who I saw discreetly dispose of it and then swigging a can of Coke. Oh, well.) Of course, if you put fresh blueberries in anything, people tend to go nuts.

Since quinoa is pricey, we stretch is by mixing it with some brown rice and millet – one of our favorite grains. Millet is a cereal that cooks up like couscous, but is way more nutritious. If you can’t find it, just use more brown rice or quinoa or other grain that you like. In fact, we’ve made this salad with all kinds of grains. It’s the combination of grains, fresh mint, tart lime and berries, and crunchy nuts that make it so interesting. I usually lug this along to summer barbecues; served ice-cold, people fall on it in droves.

Grains: they taste better than they look!

Culinary Underground’s Grain & Nut Salad
(4-6 servings)

1 Cup cooked quinoa
1 Cup cooked brown rice
1 Cup cooked millet
3 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 Cup chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper
1 Cup fresh blueberries
1 Cup chopped cashews, chopped

Cook the grains separately; spread each on a baking sheet to cool thoroughly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, lime juice, and fresh mint. Add the grains and toss gently. Add the berries and nuts and toss again. Taste and adjust seasoning – does it need more salt? Lime juice? Mint. Remember, you’re going to serve this cold, so overseason – it will taste great later.

Cover and chill for several hours. Serve with more fresh mint as garnish.

Culinary Underground School for Home Cooks is committed to furthering the art and craft of home cooking through engaging and educational hands-on and demonstrations classes. Using the best seasonal ingredients, mastering techniques, minimizing prep, and maximizing flavor are the focus of their classes. For more information and a class schedule, visit culinaryunderground.com.

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