HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Looking for Grain Salad Ideas

The post below got me thinking about other grain salads, like quinoa and rice... now that the season is comming for room temp meals.
What is everybody's favorite? I play around with grains but don't really have a standard. I tried the quinoa at a local healthy take-out cafe and loved it, but I can't quite figure out their recipe.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I am on a farro kick right now. I have been making farrotta quite a bit, but now that the weather is getting warmer, it'll be farro salads.

    I bet the cafe could give you an idea of how they make it if you ask them.

    1. I doubt this is the specific one you are seeking but it's one you might try sometime, 7 Grain Pilaf Salad--we really liked it and it's in my "keeper" looseleaf:


      1. I'm absolutely addicted to quinoa tabouleh.
        Two cups quinoa - cook in four cups water for 15 minutes - fluff and cool.
        Add 1/3 cup olive oil (I use less, and it works just fine), at least 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice, chopped shallots, diced cucumbers and tomatoes, and a LOT of fresh cilantro (you can add parsley and/or mint if you so desire.
        It's absolutely delicious.

        1. I had a great room temperature salad at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco a week or so ago. Very simple -- farro, thinly sliced kumquats, slivered scallions, small chunks of feta cheese and arugula. The "dressing" was top quality olive oil with just the tiniest bit of acid (lemon juice, but white wine vinegar would work as well).

          A room temperature grain salad I make in warm weather is a mixture of brown rice and wild rice, with raspberry vinaigrette, walnuts, scallions and currants.

          Also look at the Leite's Culinaria website because they've been adding some recipes from a cookbook called "Whole Grains: Every Day, Every Way."

          1. I love quinoa too. It cooks so much faster than barley and tastes so good.

            I basically make it a couple ways with my favourite flavour sets
            - warm with mushroom broth, shitakes and green onions, a bit of heat maybe more browned onions
            - cool with a vinegrette with avocado, red onions, red peppers, cilantro, jalepeno, garlic etc.

            1. I ilke quinoa salad. A typical recipe for me:

              Rinse quinoa well. Toast in a dry skillet over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and toasty smelling. Some of the grains will crackle a bit. Then boil/simmer. The toasting makes a big difference IMO.

              One combo I like is chickpeas, roasted asparagus (or blanched if you want more bite), parsley, chopped olives, lemon juice. I also like the tabbouleh-ish combo of parsley, tomato, cucumber, lemon juice, and feta.

              1. Here's a link for a quinoa corn and mint salad that Gourmet published last summer. It was really delicious! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                1. It's not a strict recipe, but I make a bulghur salad with corn, cherry tomatoes, edamame, red onion, and feta with a dill/dijon vinaigrette... it's great for work lunches!

                  1. Any suggestions on where to buy such grains? I.e., is it better to buy from Whole Foods or a health food store in a semi-bulk fashion or in smaller quantities from boxes or what?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: laurendlewis

                      If you buy in bulk, you have the advantage of being able to try out whatever quantity you want. However, be cautious: from what I've read and experienced, bulk grains seem to be more frequently likely to carry larvae of kitchen moths/meal moths. Having dealt with recurring kitchen moths, I don't wish this on anyone. A solution: 1) inspect your purchase very carefully and 2) freeze the grains for two days when you get home.

                    2. I once made a barley, mint, green apple and lemon viniagrette salad I found in a book and it is simple but refreshing. Handfuls of barley or wild rice are nice tossed into spinach salads.

                      I like rice salads 'southwestern' style, with chunks of chicken or turkey, corn, veggies and a spicy jalapeno viniagrette or tomato lime viniagrette, topped with avocado if you have it.

                      1. Wheat Berries are the base of my latest grain salad. I love them...they have a slight resistance, not exactly a crunch, but a resistance that makes them seem really hearty. Use the recipe below as a guide. I love it exactly this way, but you can add lots of different vegetables to it, such as chopped zuchinni or yellow squash (I like all the vegetables raw in this salad) artichoke hearts, etc.

                        WHEAT BERRY AND VEGETABLE SALAD:

                        Cook Wheat Berries according to the package directions, using chicken or vegetable broth instead of water. Drain and cool. (I usually make 2 cups)

                        While the berries are cooking, chop up:

                        1 red onion
                        1 red bell pepper
                        1 yellow bell pepper
                        3-4 green onions (or one bunch chives, chopped or snipped with scissors)
                        3-4 sprigs parsely

                        Toss drained and cooled wheat berries with the chopped vegetables and:

                        1 box cherry tomatoes, halved
                        5-6 oz goat cheese crumbled
                        Homemade vinaigrette (see below)

                        Let sit for an hour or so, though you can eat it immediately as well.


                        Mix 4 parts oil to 1 part red wine vinegar and 1 part champagne vinegar.

                        Chopped shallot
                        Dijon Mustard
                        Juice of one lemon
                        Chopped or pressed garlic
                        Lots of salt and pepper
                        Touch of paprika

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Tom P

                          I love wheatberries in salad. Do you buy the soft or hard ones and is there any difference other than cooking time?

                          1. re: coconutz

                            You know, I have never paid attention, and as I just made this a few day ago, I do not have a package to look at to check, as it was my last package in the cupboard. I would guess soft. I am not sure what the difference would be!

                          2. re: Tom P

                            I love wheatberries too...At the big event kitchen I cook at we made a wheatberry salad that I think may have been from the moosewood cookbook (guessing...I know that was my bosses favorite for a while) but I remember it had loads of dried fruit (currants, dried canberries, diced dried apricot?) diced cucumber and a light lemon/olive oil dressing. We served it over 4th of July weekend and we had to explain what a wheatberry was about 200 times (serving about 250 people), but once we got people to try it it went flying out of the bowl. I'm sure there was more in there...but I'm not sure what exactly. But, we didn't really follow the recipe anyway (it's hard to when you are doing a 20x version), so I think any combination of dried fruit that appeals, plus something for crunch, and a light tangy dressing would be wonderful. Def. make sure the dried fruit is cut small so each bite has a variety of fruit bits and a bit of the crunch element.

                            We also had a very pleasant accidident when tabbouli turned into something else all together...our very helpful volunteers made about 4 times as much bulgur as I needed to balance the parsley we had. So we had a bulger salad with parsley. I added olives and a ton of garlic and upped the dressing and ended up with a lovely green-flecked bulgur salad. Also a big hit that same day.

                            I think my favorite thing about whole grain 'salads' is that as long as you keep the balance of sizes and textures in mind you can combine anything that sounds yummy together and call it a salad and it will probably work.

                          3. I ditto the poster who recommended Kashi's 7 grain pilaf. I cook up a pack (they come three packs to a box), keep it in the fridge, and toss a handful into or over whatever we're having -- soup, salad, stir-fry.

                            1. Important note with quinoa - rinse several times. Treat like bulghur and add mint & parsley in copious amounts. Add pomeganate seeds in winter or dried cherries.
                              Wheatberries are great combined with other grains. Try Union Square Cafe cookbook recipe for basmati, wild rice and wheatberry pilaf

                              1. I have been playing w/ bulghur in my salads thanks to Arabesque, the cookbook of the month. Recently made the salad w/ chickpeas and bulghur. Very simple, zesty, herbacious, wholesome. It tasted better on the second day. Tabbouleh salad is also very nice. Make sure to use finely milled bulghur (#1 or #2).

                                Recipe link:

                                Photo of salad:

                                1. A friend from France introduced me to her recipe for simple "salade de riz au thon" (salade of rice with tuna). I was very skeptical about this salad, but I turned out to love it. It involves mixing cooled brown rice, tuna, olive oil, good mustard, a little mayo, herbs, chopped carrots, and chopped shallots. She also likes little chopped pickles in hers.

                                  It's become a favorite picnic/hike/roadtrip staple.

                                  1. you can use couscous to make a french-style tabouleh. It basically involves adding veg such as tomato cucumber, red onion; herbs; protein such as chicken or shrimp and soaking in lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar.