Grain salads are one of those rare categories where Brad and I differ. I love them, mostly because 1) I love salad, and 2) grain salads seem so virtuous that it actually increases my eating pleasure. Brad’s enjoyment is circumstantial. He’d never choose a grain salad or suggest one when we plan our meals. But if I put a good one in front of him, he’s on board.
Folks, he was on board for this one.
If I’m totally honest with you, he wasn’t on board with the one pictured exactly (he declined to try it. I loved it). He ate the second version of it I made. Because you see, this salad is more a slam dunk formula than it is a recipe. It’s endlessly adaptable and deceptively simple.
First, and most importantly, you roast some red onions. These little jewels will populate your salad with sweet caramelized heat–more like a gentle heat. A smolder? Can onions smolder?–and make everything else the better for it. After that, it’s just a matter of tossing greens (I did this with romaine–ROMAINE! The most basic lettuce there is–and it was still awesome), grains, nuts, and raisins together. There’s not even a real dressing. This salad is more low-maintenance than an air plant.
(I’ve killed air plants before. I KNOW.)
I’m just getting started with variations and I suspect the possibilities are infinite. Try it and let me know what combinations you love.
infinity grain salad
makes 4 entree servings
adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen’s Farro Salad
The first time I made this I used cooked millet, raisins, pecans, and arugula (pictured). So good. The second time it was quinoa, raisins, almonds, and romaine. STILL GOOD. Someday I’ll make Alexandra’s version too, promise.
1 red onion, diced
avocado oil (or olive oil)
1/3 cup raisins (or currants)
1/2 cup nuts (I’ve used almonds and pecans)
2 cups cooked grains (I’ve used millet and quinoa; Alexandra uses farro)
several handfuls of greens (I’ve used arugula and romaine)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the diced onion with a few teaspoons of avocado oil. Spread on a sheet pan and season with salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the onion starts to char. Watch it closely! When finished, remove from oven and place in a large serving bowl.
Place the raisins in a small boil and pour 1 tablespoon boiling water and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar over them. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Toast the nuts in a small skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Watch these closely, too!
Now, the assembly: Place greens, grains, raisins (including the liquid), and nuts in the bowl with the onions. Drizzle with avocado oil and season with a big pinch of salt and some pepper. Toss together, adding more balsamic vinegar or oil as necessary to reach the amount of dressing you like. (I’m usually satisfied with it as is.)