You know those recipes that makes beautiful lunches and feel like a special treat, but that actually don't take all that long to make if you plan in advance? The ones that graduate to dinner in a snap, and then family and friends begin requesting it? This spring grain salad is just that — it combines hearty einkorn wheat berries with sweet mango, fresh cilantro and parsley, crisp sunflower sprouts, crunchy toasted pepitas and a creamy avocado dressing. Perfect for spring, perfect for anytime.
The trick to making this salad into a quick weekday recipe is to make some of the components ahead of time. I generally cook a big batch of grains at the beginning of the week, which will keep for several days if covered and refrigerated. So if you make your einkorn (or whichever grain you like) ahead, this salad will be a snap. The rest is pretty simple, really. The dressing takes a minute or so to mix up, and the pepitas don't take long at all to toast.
And let's talk about this dressing. This will be in heavy, heavy rotation this spring and summer at our house; it's silky, delicious, and boasts an entire serving of Greek yogurt in each batch. While I'm using it in a grain salad here, I think it'd be wonderful thinned out a bit (with oil or water) and used in a hearty lettuce salad or even as a light sandwich spread.
Now, onto the salad itself! For the brunt of this salad, I opted to use einkorn, delicious wheat berries that are full of fiber and protein. They also have a lovely toothsome chew much like farro or spelt berries. If you have trouble tracking down einkorn, use any hearty grain you like; I would just stay away from delicate grains like amaranth or quinoa as I think the dressing would really weigh them down.
As for the other ingredients, they should be relatively easy for you to track down. I used sunflower sprouts here since mung bean sprouts had a recent recall and are pretty tough to come by these days. Radish sprouts would be really nice, too. Last, I call for optional avocado in the salad itself — the dressing already contains one avocado, but I like little chunks inside the salad as well.
The first day I made this, we had it just as it is for lunch. But the day after, we had the leftovers in the morning with a runny egg on top. Both were do-agains. The nice thing about this recipe, as with most grain bowls, is its adaptability: if you don't care for mango or want a little more protein, stir in some black beans and chopped tomatoes for a Southwest version. Perhaps you've got some leftover pulled pork or chicken at home — that'd be great here, too. I'd love to hear about any adaptations you try at home that you love!
Spring Grain Salad with Mango, Sprouts and Creamy Avocado Dressing
For the dressing:
1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
For the salad:
1 1/2 cups raw einkorn
3/4 cup pepitas
1 cup sunflower sprouts or radish sprouts
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 ripe medium mangos, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 avocado, diced (optional)
Make the dressing: In the bowl of a food processor (or blender) combine the avocado, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Process until smooth. Add the yogurt at the end and process until combined. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
Cook the grains: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Then add 1 1/2 cups einkorn and reduce heat to low. Simmer on low for 30-35 minutes, or until the grains have absorbed the water. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F and toast the peptias until fragrant, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Assemble the salad: In your favorite large salad bowl, combine the cooked and cooled grains, 1/2 cup of toasted pepitas, 3/4 cups sprouts, cilantro, parsley, mango and salt. Fold in the avocado dressing and stir to combine. Top with remaining 1/4 cup toasted peptias and sprouts, as well as additional avocado if you'd like. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
(Images: Megan Gordon)