Ina Garten’s Amazingly Simple Hack Absolutely Transformed My Grain Salads

published Jun 4, 2022
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Side by side photos. Left side: Ina Garten sitting in a chair and laughing. Right side: overhead view of homemade farro tabbouleh salad on windowsill
Credit: rom Left to Right: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images; Cory Fernandez

Hearty, satisfying grain salads are truly in a league of their own. They’re not quite the same as the leafy green varieties, and they’re definitely different from the creamy salads made with chicken, tuna, or potatoes. Grain salads are particularly great, though, because they’re super customizable: You can use any type of grain you love, and whatever combination of vegetables you like. Plus, they’re great served hot or cold.

Ina Garten has a never-ending supply of helpful tips when it comes to baking and cooking, so it’s no surprise that she has the perfect trick for making an ordinary grain salad extraordinary. Whether you prefer quinoa, barley, farro, or brown rice, there’s one Ina-approved step I’ve adopted for making my salads more exciting.

When preparing any grain salad at home, be sure to dress your freshly cooked grains with the vinaigrette while they’re still hot! Yes, that’s it — no special equipment or difficult-to-find ingredients. All you have to do is remember this one step after removing the lid from a warm pot of cooked grains.

Credit: Cory Fernandez

Why This Technique Works So Well

I tried out this technique when I made Ina’s farro tabbouleh with feta, which is from her 2018 cookbook,Cook Like a Pro. In the tip for the recipe, Ina writes that tossing the grains while they’re still warm will help make for a more flavorful salad.

To put the tip to the test, I even did a side-by-side comparison with one salad with farro that was dressed while at room temperature and another identical salad that was dressed while still warm and then cooled to room temperature. The salad that I dressed while the grains were hot was more flavorful, and the texture of the grains subtly changed in the best possible way. The farro dressed while warm had pleasant lemon-y taste that wasn’t harsh (like with the room-temperature-dressed farro) and the grains themselves were much more tender. The heat from the grains helped tone down the bite of the lemon juice perfectly and added just the right amount of softness to the farro.

Leave it to Ina to deliver yet another easy-to-implement cooking tip that I’ll be using from now on.