Grain salads are a wholesome side dish next to chicken, fish or meat, and will also hold their own as a vegetarian dish for dinner allowing the versatility of lots of extra add ins. Or if you fancy a light vegetarian main dish for a change after a big social weekend, although that's a challenging thought these days, this is my suggestion for a Meat Free Monday. Make a large batch on the weekend, and you will enjoy it for lunches during the following week, this applies to most grain salads.
I made this salad to take to a dinner a few nights ago and it was a real hit. I assemble the grains and the lemon dressing the day before if I have time, add the chopped herbs on the day of eating, and then add the yoghurt dressing just before serving. The flavours combine beautifully.
I have made this salad before using quinoa as the main grain, and it was delicious as quinoa is a wonderful supporter of flavours. However, my preference is now to use Bulgur Wheat. It has a uniquely earthly flavour, is kind to the gut, and is also very fast and easy to cook. However you can use both quinoa and bulgur wheat combined for even more grainy impact. Bulgar is made from durum wheat that has already been cracked and partially pre-cooked,and all you need to do is soak it in boiling water for 10 minutes, drain and you've got a light and nutty addition to your meals. It can generally be used as a healthy alternative to rice, couscous or stuffing for a high-fibre meal. As a friend said to me, ancient grains are just the best.
This recipe is based on a popular one by George Calombaris and is very easily modified to suit what you might have on hand in the pantry. Mix up your grains. It saves time to have pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds and pine nuts, already toasted and stored in separate jars for using in grain salads.
Cypriot Grain Salad
1/2 red onion finely diced
1 cup of Australian Bulgur Wheat (or freekah, quinoa or other grain)
1/2 cup Puy lentils
2 tbsp. toasted slivered almonds
2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp. baby capers
1 bunch chopped coriander
1/2 bunch chopped parsley
1/2 cup currants (1/4 cup dried cranberries plus 1/4 cup currants is also a nice mix)
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1 pomegranate, deseeded to serve
Cumin Yoghurt Dressing: -
1 cup thick Greek yoghurt
1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground (essential)
1 tbsp. honey
Boil Puy lentils in boiling water until just cooked. Drain very well and allow to cool.
Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl, except the yoghurt dressing, and mix well. The yoghurt dressing can now be left covered in a jar in the refrigerator for a day if necessary. Whisk the oil and lemon juice dressing in a small jar until it emulsifies, season to taste, and add to the grains.
Just before eating, place the grain salad in an attractive serving dish and top with the delicious Cumin Yoghurt. Garnish and decorate with pomegranate seeds. However if pomegranates aren't in season or your thing, pour a few strips of pomegranate molasses across the yoghurt, and top with some scattered coriander leaves, or mint leaves, or roughly chopped cranberries. It's all about the colour and flavour to contrast with the grains.
Warmest wishes my friends and I hope you are having a safe and enjoyable week. Thanks for visiting.