4 Tips for Making Better Grain Salads

4 Tips for Making Better Grain Salads

(Image credit: Jannie Huang)

Grain salads have so many awesome things going for them: the grains don't get soggy quickly like lettuce, they're healthy, filling, and inexpensive, and there are an infinite number of delicious combinations of grains, veggies, and proteins to throw together.

Chef Jason French of Ned Ludd restaurant in Portland, OR gave us four great tips on easy ways to make a grain salad tastier and even better!

(Image credit: Jannie Huang)

1. Toast the grains.

Lightly dry toast the grains until golden before adding liquid to bring out the nutty and earthy flavors. The toasting also helps to provide a bit more protection to the grains from getting too soggy during the cooking process so they stay firm in the salad.

2. Cook with herbs.

Using aromatic herbs throughout the cooking process adds depth and complex flavors to grain salads. Try toasting the grains with some oil and dried herbs, or throw in a few sprigs of fresh herbs like parsley or sage into the cooking liquid instead. A sprinkle of finely chopped herbs can also add freshness and vibrance to your finished salad.

3. Cook like pasta.

For cold salads, treat the grains like pasta and cook in a significant amount of well-seasoned stock or water until desired tenderness. This cooks the grains evenly without a lot of active participation on your part, and making sure the liquid is seasoned means your grains will also be seasoned properly. The drained off stock or water is also a great stew or soup base so nothing goes to waste!

4. Cool down quickly.

Chill the cooked grains immediately under cool running water or a spread out onto a baking sheet to cool, then toss with a bit of olive oil. This will stop the cooking and create a nice firm texture for salads that isn't too soft or mushy.

Thanks for the tips Chef French!

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