Recently I have been seeing more recipes that use whole grains instead of rice or pasta. These have exotic sounding names like quinoa, pearl wheat, wild rice and can turn a simple dish into something that sounds more exotic. These whole grains are an excellent source of protein as well making them ideal for vegetarians. I have wanted to use these grains for some time but not got around to it. Recently I decided to be adventurous and on a sunny day I made a mixed bean and 5 whole grain salad.
Uncle Bens made the preparation of the salad easy for me as they have just bought out a new range of rice and grains. These easy to prepare pouches are ready in two minutes in the microwave and can be used as an accompaniment to many meals. There are five flavours, Wholegrain & Quinoa, Pearl Wheat, Quinoa and Wholegrain, Wholegrain & Quinoa Tomato and Basil, 5 Whole Grains and Rice Medley. I was recently sent these to try along with a recipe leaflet that I used for inspiration for my salad. I modified the recipe slightly in order to use ingredients that I had in the cupboard.
For the base of the salad I used the pack of 5 whole grains. This is a mix of wholegrain rice , wild rice, red quinoa, millet and pearl barley lightly flavoured with cumin and soy sauce. This was heated in a microwave for two minutes then poured out into a bowl. In the meantime I cooked some french beans and left them to cool. These were chopped into pieces and added to the salad. I also added some cooked beans, a chopped red pepper and some sweetcorn. I used cannellini beans, soya beans and black eyed beans but any beans could be used.
The result was tasty but I wanted to add a little bit more flavour to the resulting salad. I decided that a vinaigrette dressing would work perfectly and take the salad to another level. Every time I make vinaigrette dressing I make it differently adding different herbs and spices depending what I have in. The basic recipe uses three tablespoons of oil and two tablespoons of vinegar. I usually use olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but cider and wine vinegars add a different flavour. Pepper, salt, mustard, chopped garlic, herbs and sugar can all be added to vary the taste and flavour. For this salad I added a teaspoon of lime juice and some black pepper to the basic vinaigrette mixture. This added a slightly tropical flavour to the tart dressing which worked well with the beans.
The resulting salad is lovely eaten on it’s own. It can be packed into a lunch box and taken to work and also used as a side dish to chicken or fish. The grains are a nice alternative to rice making the dish more unusual.
For a more exotic salad this seafood salad with a mango lime dressing is lovely and refreshing.