Whole Grain and Bean Salads
If you’re too busy to cook dinner, creating a bean and grain salad can be a great make ahead dinner. In fact, you can make a few of these on the weekend and eat them all week long!
This is free-form cooking at its easiest. You can use any bean no matter if you’ve just cooked up a big pot or if they are from a can you grab from the pantry. A few of my personal favorites to use in salads are chickpeas, kidney, black beans, white beans, and lentils. If you are using canned beans make sure to drain them and rinse well to remove any extra salt. It also helps take away the tinny taste that canned beans sometimes have.
Next up is to choose a grain. Time is usually a deciding factor for me. Couscous and bulgar are super fast and heat up your kitchen the least. In fact, you can even cheat and heat up the water in a microwave. Don’t forget that there’s a rainbow of grains like rice, farro, millet, quinoa, and many more to choose from. If you’re gluten-free try brown rice couscous – it’s really tasty. I cook up an extra cup of whatever grain I’m making for dinner and stash it in the fridge. Then it’s even easier to make a last minute meal on a day too blistering to think about turning on the stove.
I like to use these salads to clean out the fridge the day before my CSA arrives. You can use raw or lightly steamed veggies depending on your preference. A nice raw blend is chopped bell pepper, scallions, shredded carrot, cubed cucumber, minced spinach, and an heirloom tomato straight from the garden. I like to lightly steam green beans, carrots, and peas. You can even cook up some baby potatoes, turnips, beets, and other root veggies to toss in.
When it comes to dressing you can make it easy on yourself and just toss it in the juice of a lemon or lime, some chopped fresh herbs and a little olive oil. Alternatively you can use your favorite pre-made dressing or even salsa. I like to use lime with Asian or Mexican flavors. This is also the perfect place to experiment with those flavored olive oils and balsamic that came in your holiday gift packs.