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Thursday, June 16, 2016 12:01 am

Hearty grain salads for summer

Vegetable-packed and protein-rich nutrition

Black bean salad
PHOTO FROM ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

 

With the warm summer weather comes weekend cookouts and busy schedules. These hearty vegetable-packed and protein-rich salads keep in the fridge for up to five days and are perfect for light weeknight suppers or busy weekday lunches.

Not only are these salads delicious and satisfying, they pack a hefty nutritional punch and are a great vehicle for getting fresh, seasonal vegetables into the weekly meal rotation. Chewy, nutty wheat berries have as much protein as quinoa and are an excellent source of fiber. Bell peppers and lime are rich in vitamin C, which increases the bioavailability of the iron found in black beans. Use these recipes as a jumping off point. The combinations and possibilities are virtually endless.

Israeli Couscous Salad     
• ¼ c olive oil
• 1 cup Israeli couscous     
• 1 ½ c water or broth
• ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
• 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
• ½ c rough chopped parsley
• ½ c julienned fresh mint
• 1 can low-sodium garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
• 3-4 cups raw or lightly roasted/ blanched vegetables (see seasonal combinations below)
• 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing
• Juice of 2 lemons
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• ¼ cup olive oil
• ¼ cup neutral oil, like canola
• 2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
• 1 clove finely minced garlic
• salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed 4 qt pot over medium high heat. Add couscous and toast thoroughly until golden brown, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Add water and salt and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and couscous grains are al dente. Spread out over a cookie sheet and let cool to room temperature.

Once cool, transfer to a large bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix together dressing ingredients in a jar and shake thoroughly to combine. Toss salad with dressing and chill until ready to serve.

Seasonal vegetable combinations that work well include: roasted radishes and asparagus, blanched peas and fresh spinach/grilled sweet corn kernels, roasted eggplant cubes, grilled or roasted summer squash, blanched green beans, diced cucumber, julienned kale/roasted autumn vegetables such as butternut squash, cauliflower or romanesco florets and carrots.


Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat’s
Cheese and Dill

• 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 1 pound beets, scrubbed and halved if large
• 1 ½ cups wheat berries
• 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
• ¼ c finely chopped dill
• ½ c roughly chopped parsley

Dressing
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
• ¼ cup olive oil
• ¼ cup neutral oil, like canola
• 2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon minced shallot
• salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Scrub beets and cut in half if necessary.

Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, then wrap them loosely in foil.

Transfer the wrapped beets to a baking sheet (to catch drips in case the beet juices leak). Roast for 50-60 minutes. Beets are done when a fork or skewer slides easily to the middle of the beet. Larger beets may take longer to cook.

When beets are cool enough to handle peel the skins away by rubbing with a paper towel. Slice into 1-inch cubes.

While the beets are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add wheat berries and simmer for 40-45 minutes, or until wheat berries are tender but still intact and slightly chewy. Drain, then toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and spread out on a cookie sheet to cool. (Note: wheat berries can be cooked ahead and stored in Ziploc bags in the freezer for up to 3 months.)

When wheat berries and beets are cool, combine them in a large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar and mix to combine, then add to wheat berry mixture and toss combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and chill until ready to serve.


Southwest Black Bean Salad
• 2 cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 bunch green onions, both white and green parts thinly sliced
• ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro, packed
• ¼ cup diced celery
• ½ cup diced red pepper
• ½ cup diced green pepper
• 1 cup frozen corn kernels
• 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely minced (optional)
• ¼ cup mayonnaise (such as Hellman’s or Vegenaise)
• juice from 1 lime
• 2 teaspoons brown sugar
• 1 clove garlic, finely minced
• Tabasco hot sauce, to taste
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• Sliced avocado

Combine all ingredients except avocado and mix to combine. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Chill until ready to serve, then top with sliced avocado. Makes an excellent side dish, or serve with a warmed tortilla or chips for a light meal. (Note: the dressing may separate after a few days in the refrigerator. Just stir gently and serve.)

Ashley Meyer is the executive chef for genHkids, and previously owned RealCuisine Catering. Her delicious, hearty salad offerings were popular with many clients looking to freshen up their lunch routine.

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