It’s never too late to make a resolution, or two. Today is March 1 and I’m thinking “Why not start now?” Last month I jumped in with both feet doing Soul Cycle, which it turns out I love. I also started a fun little Facebook event in February called “Drink More Water ,” which had hundreds of people “going.” It’s never too late. Even for my blog. I’ve been very bad about posting on my own site! Hopefully this month all that change. I’ve got an idea for you that is easy, healthy and delicious. You will have to commit to a little time, but I promise it’s not much, and a lot of what you do for this dish is mainly multi-tasking. It all comes together in about an hour, and you will have enough for several lunches.
I used three different grains for this recipe: millet, quinoa, wheat berry; and also French lentils. You really can add whatever you like. I was trying to recreate a bowl I had at Chop’t a few weeks ago, and think this comes pretty darn close.
Cooking millet and quinoa are very similar. The only difference is, it’s nice to toast the millet first. You want to cook them 1:2, so one part grain to two parts water. Add the grains to boiling salted water, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the bowl sit another 10 minutes covered. Uncover and fluff with a fork.
The lentils will take about the same amount of time, so when you add the millet and quinoa to boiling water, use another pot for the lentils and cook them the same way. It’s better to cook them separately so the flavors don’t muddle together.
Wheat berries take a little more planning. You need to soak them over night before cooking. I would highly encourage using them. The texture is so very different from the lentils and quinoa.
They have a very cool crunchiness to them which really makes them interesting in a salad.
In my basement pantry I had a lonely butternut squash waiting to be used. It was one of the last vegetables I got at Hilltop Hanover Farm in December. Lucky for us we still had farms harvesting in to late fall.
I basically cubed it up, seasoning with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then placed in a very hot oven for about 15 minutes.
While all these wonderful things were cooking I worked on my salad greens. Kale works perfectly with this kind of salad. The leaves hold up really well several days later. Just strip the stems, roll then like a cigar and slice.
The last part is your dressing. You can easily use a bottled dressing of choice, but if you are going to all this trouble to make the salad, might as well do the dressing. It only take two minutes. I used dijon mustard, maple syrup, white wine vinegar and a flavorless oil. Season with salt and pepper and shake in a small jar. Recipe: 1 tablespoon each of maple syrup and mustard, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 1/4 cup of oil. Season with salt and pepper and shake well in a small jar.
Drizzle half of the dressing on your kale and rub it in to the leaves with your fingers. Add the squash and toss.
Add the other half to your mixed grains and lentils. If you are so inclined, and have them handy, toss in a couple of tablespoons of hemp and chia seeds. They will add a nice little crunch.
So that’s it. It looks like a lot of moving parts, and it is, but they all cook at the same time, and this really does come together in about an hour. The best part is this recipe will yield a lot in the end, so you will have enough for a couple of meals and extra grains for another time. I used it the next day with a poached egg and then the following day with chicken. The salad tastes even better the next day once the flavors come together.
Visit the bulk bin at Whole Foods the next time you are near one. They have oodles of things from dry fruits to cereals to grains. It’s the perfect way to try a few things with minimal cost. This dish will come in under $15, and last you several meals. Totally worth the time and effort.
Mixed Grain Salad
Makes 6-8 servings
1/2 cup dry wheat berry (soaked overnight)
1/2 cup dry millet
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/2 cup French lentils
2 -3 cups cubed butternut squash
Extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 bunch red winterbor kale
1 tablespoon hemp seeds, optional
1 tablespoon chia seeds, optional
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of good maple syrup or honey
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1/4 cup flavorless oil, avocado/canola/vegetable
1. The night before soak your wheat berries in 3 cups of water. Cover and set on the counter.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small sauté pan toast the millet for 3-4 minutes.
3. Bring two small pots of water to boil, each with 2 cups of water. Season each with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
4. Add the lentils to one pot. To the other add the quinoa and toasted millet. Bring both down to a simmer and cover. Set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
5. In a third pot add the wheat berries with their soaking water and a teaspoon of salt, and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes
6. Place the butternut squash on a tray and toss with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Place in the oven and set another timer for 15 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.
7. While the grains and squash cook strip the kale leaves from the stems. Roll in a cigar and slice 1/4″ thick. Place in a very large bowl and set aside.
8. Make the dressing: add all the ingredients in a small jar, along with a good pinch of salt and pepper, and shake well. Set aside.
9. Drain the lentils and wheat berries and lay out on a rimmed sheet. Fluff the millet and quinoa with a fork and lay on another sheet. Spread every thing out and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
10. Take half of the dressing and rub it into the kale. Gently mix in the cooled squash. Season with a little more salt and pepper.
11. In another bowl mix 1 cup each of the lentils, millet, quinoa and wheat berry. Reserve the remaining for another dish. Drizzle remaining dressing over the grains and then combine with the kale-squash.
12. If desired add the hemp and chia seeds. Serve warm or cold, on it’s own or with a protein.