Monday, May 2, 2011

Mediterranean Grain Salad

The first time I saw this recipe in Cooking Light last spring, it did catch my eye.  I was looking for more recipes using grains like barley, quinoa and farro, but when a quick skim through the ingredients revealed fennel, I skipped over it, not being a fan of it.  Luckily for me, Josie at Pink Parsley changed things up, omitting the fennel and adding more veggies.

This has been in steady rotation ever since.  It's a great make-ahead, since it tastes better with more time for the dressing to really soak in.  It's forgiving, since you could really use any grain or even pasta here.  This time around, I used a mix of barley and brown rice.  I like to make a batch over the weekend, have it as a side for grilled shrimp or chicken, then eat it on its own for lunch a few times during the week.

Mediterranean Grain Salad

What's in it:

3 cups cooked and cooled grain of your choice- barley, rice, couscous, pasta, etc.
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
2 Tbsp freshly chopped dill
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup grape tomato halves
1/2 cup diced cucumber
8 pitted olives, roughly chopped (I usually grab a variety from the olive bar, but kalamata are a good choice)
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

How to make it:

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, and vinegar in a bowl.  Whisk to combine, and season with salt and pepper.  Add the parsley through feta, stirring gently to combine.  Cover and allow to sit either at room temperature or chilled for at least 30 minutes.  Fold in the walnuts, and serve.

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