“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?” Percy Bysshe Shelley
Grain salads are hearty and can be made with whatever you have on hand. They are great to bring to potluck as they hold up well. This one used a fabulous wheat berry grain from France but you could substitute Israeli couscous, quinoa or your favorite grain. It is more a “how I made it” kind of post than a true recipe.
The grain is toasted before cooking it to bring out nuttier flavor, give it a nice toothsome bite and enhance its color. I paired savory and sweet elements for balance and brought in plenty of crunch with shredded cabbage, celery, and pecans. Feel free to substitute freely. The citrus notes make the salad sing! I can’t say enough about all the flavors you can develop by using flavored oils and vinegars. The Meyer Lemon balsamic I paired with garlic olive oil from Cardenas’ in Philadelphia’s Italian market are incredible and appearing in all my winter salads right now. Visit one of the popular olive oil tasting shops that are popping up all over right now and discover some new favorites to bring into your kitchen. The nutritional value of this salad is off the charts and it delivers an exciting explosion of flavors and textures to brighten a drab winter day. You can easily add cooked chicken to the salad if desired.
Winter Grain Salad with Orange, Dates, Cabbage and Pecans
- 1 lb of wheat berry or other grain
- 2 T olive oil
- pinch of salt
- water to cover the grains by about an inch
- 4 c shredded cabbage
- 1 c thinly sliced red onion
- 2 stalks of celery cut into thin slices
- 2 large navel oranges, zested, pith removed, cut in bite-sized segments
- 8 oz dried cranberrries
- 12 dates, halved and diced
- 1 large sweet potato, cooked, peeled and cut in bite-sized pieces
- 2/3 c of fresh herbs, chopped(I used parsley)
- juice of a lemon
- 1/2 c flavored olive oil(I used garlic)
- 1/4 c flavored balsamic vinegar(I used Meyer Lemon)
- fresh ground pepper
- 1 c pecan halves, toasted
- In a large pot, heat oil then add your grain and mix constantly until the grain becomes toasted to a gorgeous amber color. Add water to cover the grain by about an inch and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook covered for 15 minutes or until your water has been absorbed. Don’t overcook. You want some toothsome bite to the grain.
- In a large salad bowl, place the grain. Add the shredded cabbage, onion and celery. Mix the flavored olive oil and balsamic to make a simple vinaigrette. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette. Add a few grinds of pepper. Layer on the oranges, cranberries, orange zest, sweet potatoes and parsley and splash with the squeezed lemon juice. Toss.
- Top the salad with the toasted pecans and chopped dates and a few more grinds of pepper. Do not toss until ready to serve.
- Enjoy at room temperature.