I’m actually cooking up some bean and grain salads for my friend’s wedding this weekend. I’m super excited that she found the one for her and it’s even better because I like him too. I realized that these could make my lunches easy (and in advance) all summer long and wanted to pass the bean fever over to you guys too!
If you know you’re going to have a tough week and aren’t likely to come home and cook dinner, craft a bean and grain salad ahead of time. You could even make a few of these on the weekend and eat them all week long!
This is a non-recipe that you can be as creative with as you want. I’ll follow up in the next few weeks with a recipe or two for bean and grain easy meals that I throw together. Some recipes just may just show up in my new book that I’m currently working on…
You can use any bean no matter if you’ve just cooked up a big pot or if they are from a can you grab from the pantry. A few of my personal favorites to use in salads are chickpeas, kidney, black beans, white beans, and lentils.
Don’t forget you can make 1 or 2 cans worth in your 1 1/2 slow cooker. Here’s the low down on that if you managed to miss it before. It could change the way you think about beans this summer.
If you are using canned beans make sure to drain them and rinse well to remove any extra salt. It also helps take away the tinny taste that canned beans sometimes have.
Next up is to choose a grain. Time is usually a deciding factor for me. Couscous and bulgar cook up fast, so they heat up your kitchen the least. In fact, you can even cheat and heat up the water in the microwave. Don’t forget that there’s a rainbow of grains like rice, farro, millet, quinoa, and many more to choose from. If you’re on a gluten-free diet, try brown rice couscous – it’s really tasty. I cook up an extra cup of whatever grain I’m making for dinner and stash it in the fridge. Then it’s even easier to make a last minute meal on a day too blistering to think about turning on the stove.
I like to use these salads to clean out the fridge the day before my CSA arrives. You can use raw or lightly steamed veggies depending on your preference. A nice raw blend is chopped bell pepper, scallions, shredded carrot, cubed cucumber, minced spinach, and an heirloom tomato straight from the garden. I like to lightly steam green beans, carrots, and peas. You can even cook up some baby potatoes, turnips, beets, and other root veggies to toss in.
When it comes to dressing you can make it easy on yourself and just toss it in the juice of a lemon or lime, some chopped fresh herbs and a little olive oil. Alternatively you can use your favorite pre-made dressing or even salsa. I like to use lime with Asian or Mexican flavors. This is also the perfect place to experiment with those flavored olive oils and balsamic that came in your holiday gift packs.