Whole Grain Summer Salad

When most people think about grains, they think hot dishes – oatmeal, pilafs, etc. But they work just great in cold salads, and this makes for a great one during those hot summer days and pairs well with something off the grill. And since it is even better once the flavors have had a chance to mingle a bit, it would be the perfect dish to bring to that neighborhood party or along on a picnic.

While I used freekeh making this batch, you could use just about any of your favorite whole grains, bulgar, quinoa, maybe even some wild rice – or try a mix of grains, just depends on what you’re in the mood for or maybe what you want to pair the dish with. The celery gives a nice crunch, the carrots some great color, and the cranberries a nice touch of sweetness that makes everything all come together nicely.

Whole Grain Salad

Ingredients

2 cups cooked whole grain
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium carrot – shredded (about 2/3-3/4 cup)
4 green onions – chopped (whites and greens)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1-2 cloves garlic – chopped
3 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T brown rice syrup
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix the whole grain of your choice, the chopped celery (I split the wider ones in half length-wise before chopping), the shredded carrot, green onion and cranberries. In another small bowl combine the garlic, olive oil, vinegar and brown rice syrup and stir to combine. I use a 1-cup mason jar, putting the dressing ingredients in, covering and shaking to combine. Pour the dressing over the grain/vegetable mix and stir to combine. Chill for a couple hours and then taste-test before adding some salt and pepper.

I know most people likely don’t have brown rice syrup on hand, so feel free to try honey or maple syrup or some agave syrup. I’m sure they’ll work just as well, they’ll just each give a slightly different flavor. And as usual, most of my recipes are pretty flexible in other ways. For example, I chose green onions because of their subtle flavor – but sweet vidalla onions are just coming in to season and I’m thinking they would work well in a dish like this. And even the fruit… raisins or dates may be some I’ll have to try the next time I make this.

And different grains will each bring their own subtle taste differences to this dish as well, so feel free to play around with what you have on hand… and if you do try a variation of this, let me know how it worked for you by leaving a comment below!

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