Monday, April 19, 2010

Grain Salad with Asparagus and Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

This weekend I found a ton of new recipes to try out and this grain salad was one of the recipes from The Kitchn (a fantastic blog- recipes, kitchen renos, cool kitchen gadgets, and lots of advice).  Grain based salads are a really easy weekday lunch and this is the second week that I've made one for work. The salads can be eaten cold and are very filling due to the grains.  If you are celiac, this salad can be made with a gluten-free grain like quinoa.  

I really liked this salad and I am excited because the original recipe says that the Meyer lemon flavor only gets more intense and delicious as the salad sits in the fridge! It was the first time I had ever cooked with Spelt or Couscous (I used Israeli Couscous).  My suggestion is to rinse the couscous before cooking it or rinse it under cold water after cooked. The spelt also needs to be watched and stirred constantly as it cooks, which makes this dish slightly more labor intensive.  It is also a bit difficult to find spelt at regular grocery stores, but bulk or specialty health food stores may have it.  I didn't have any walnut oil, and though I'm sure it would have made the salad taste a bit different, it is good without it as well.

Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese
serves 6
8 ounces uncooked spelt or farro
3 cups water
8 ounces uncooked pearl couscous, or Trader Joe's Harvest Grain Blend
1 3/4 cups water
1 pound asparagus
Olive oil
1 cup sliced toasted almonds
4 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled and crumbled
2 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
Salt and pepper
Cook the spelt or farro in a large saucepan or sauté pan over medium heat, adding one cup of water at a time and stirring until absorbed before adding more. Keep cooking and stirring until the grain is al dente and dry with no water remaining to be absorbed.
Meanwhile, simmer 1 3/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Add the Harvest Grains blend, stir, cover and turn to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, then remove the lid and cook, stirring, until any remaining moistness evaporates. Mix the two cooked grains in a large bowl and set aside.
Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and cut each spear into a 2-inch piece. Rinse out the large sauté pan and dry. Heat a little olive oil over medium heat, and cook the asparagus until just barely crisp-tender - about 1-2 minutes. Add to the grains and toss.
Also toss in the sliced toasted almonds, goat cheese and lemon zest.
Mix the Meyer lemon juice with the oils, taste, and adjust. Pour over grain salad and toss, along with salt and pepper to taste.
This salad lasts very well in the fridge; the herbal flavors of the Meyer lemons bloom nicely when it sits.

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