Thursday, August 18, 2011

Simple Grain Salad with Cashews & Mint

Hello friends. It's been a while. I've been away for the summer, in a place where the chance to cook a meal is a rare occurrence, and the chance to cook one well is non-existent. So, I am happy to be home and to refocus on cooking healthy, veg-focused food. I can't wait to try new things, perfect old recipes, and to take advantage of the local summer produce while it lasts.

This morning I was looking through my fridge, and seeing a bunch of leftovers that didn't call to me. How can I accumulate this many leftovers in only 4 days? Not entirely sure. Is there a leftover fairy that visits my home in the night and leaves half-eaten dishes in my fridge? Possibly. Anyway, I won't get a chance to hit the farmer's market until Saturday anyway, so today's recipe is one of those "clean out the fridge" ones. However, I can tell you, sometimes those can be the best, and it is a great feeling to re-purpose something into a new, tasty dish. Also, I hate throwing away food. I am morally opposed to it. Not really, but it does hurt my heart a little.

In the spirit of keeping my heart happy today, I made a dish around my leftover whole wheat couscous/bulgar wheat mixture that was made last night. Leftover grains are one of the easiest things to turn into something great. I chose to make a simple salad, but they can also be used for breakfast (with maple syrup, nuts, dried fruit, yogurt, etc), for veggie burgers (as a binder), and for gratins (mix with sauteed veggies, egg, milk & cheese).

This is one of those simple summer salads that can be made with an endless combination of grains, vegetables, fresh herbs, and nuts. Today's turned out bright and surprisingly addicting. A note on bulgur wheat: if you haven't tried it, DO. It is my current favorite grain, more so than quinoa or even rice. It has a nutty, satisfying flavor, it cooks quickly, and is packed with protein and fiber

Simple Grain Salad with Cashews & Mint
Yield: A lot. Have some friends over for lunch.

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 shallot, minced
2 tsp maple syrup
2 cups cooked whole wheat couscous
2 cups cooked bulgur wheat
3/4 cups raw cashews
2/3 cups green onion, diced
sea salt & pepper
handful fresh mint, roughly chopped (I like a big, big handful, but I have a slight herb obsession)

In a large skillet, toast the cashews on medium high until they are fragrant - about 4 minutes. Note: If you only have roasted, salted cashews in your pantry, that works too! Just omit the toasting step and use less salt in your dressing.

In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, shallot, maple syrup, and a generous amount of salt & pepper. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Do not over mix, as the bulgur may fall apart and become mushy. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve as a side dish for dinner, or add some chickpeas and eat as a healthy lunch!

See, wasn't that easy? Please enjoy, and look forward to more posts very soon. I just ordered a REAL camera so I am looking forward to some beautiful photos in the near future. Thanks for reading.

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