Monday, April 18, 2011

Grain & Veggie Pasta Salad

This is the perfect well balanced lunch or a great side dish for a summer BBQ.  The picture on this post doesn't look too appetizing because I used a balsamic dressing instead of a lemon vinaigrette.  You can dress it with whatever flavor you choose, but it does look more appetizing with a lighter color because the grains don't look so dark!

Grain & Veggie Pasta Salad
 2 1/2 c. dry mixed grains (orzo, cous cous, quinoa, wild rice, etc..)
4 green onions or ½ red onion
2 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, diced (I like some of each)
1-2 c. tomatoes, diced
1 c. carrots, diced
1 cucumber, diced
2 c. sugar snap peas, cut into small pieces
2 avocado’s, cubed

Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing:

½ c. white wine vinegar
2 Tbls. sugar
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic
2 Tbls. lemon juice
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. flax oil
Process all ingredients in a blender while slowly drizzling in the oils.

I like to cook my mixed grains in chicken stock usually, but for this recipe, the dressing will add a lot of flavor, so don't worry about doing that this time.  If you have access to a Trader Joe's, you will love their mixed grain bags.  I love the Harvest Grains blend.  It is also now available at Costco under a different name brand.  

If you don't go to TJ's, then you can always use straight quinoa (keen-wah), just make sure to rinse it first so you won't have the bitter taste.  I do cook quinoa in chicken broth because I think it helps takes the bitter taste away as well.  It is an amazing ancient super grain that is wonderful for you.  It provides a complete protein (meaning it contains all of the nine amino acids required for that) so if you are a vegetarian or want to get more plant protein in your diet, start using it more often. 

After you've cooked your grains, let them cool.  I put them in a bowl and chill them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  After the grains are cold, dice all your vegetables and mix them in with the grains.  Toss with any dressing of your choice, and top with the avocados.  I like this recipe for the dressing, but you can always use any vinaigrette you like.  Apply dressing until coated but not soaking in the dressing.  It's easy to overdo it.
You will not use all of the dressing, but it stays good for a week or so in the refrigerator.
Put avocado’s on the salad right before serving to prevent them from going brown.
It is a great healthy lunch wrapped in a tortilla or a fun side salad to serve on a hot summer day J

Bon Appetit

No comments:

Post a Comment