At first glance, Whole Grains Every Day Every Way didn’t really seem like anything special. But after flipping through a few pages and skimming some of the recipes, I quickly scooped this one up at the library. It’s been sitting on my kitchen counter for weeks and getting use almost every day.
The recipes in Lorna Sass’ book elevate whole grains to a new level. No plain old brown rice pilaf or bran muffins here. Creatively combining grains with proteins, vegetables, and even fruits, Sass offers a little book of deliciousness sure to provide everyone with something that appeals to their tastes. To get your mouth watering: Brown Rice Salad Nicoise, Wild Rice and Turkey Salad with Pear Dressing, Millet Pie with Spinach and Feta, Amaranth Polenta with Wild Mushrooms, and Teff Waffles with Caramelized Bananas.
Sass begins the book with a very useful and comprehensive guide to every whole grain under the sun, providing instructions on how to cook it as well as what flavors complement it. Whether you’re new to the world of whole grains or if you’re an old veteran like me, this book will please beginners and advanced cooks alike.
While many of the recipes in the book use grains containing gluten (kamut, rye, spelt, etc.), just as many do not. For those that are sensitive to gluten, there are plenty of gluten-free “grain swaps” listed with most recipes. (For example, quinoa for barley, or brown rice for wheat berries.)
It was hard—very, very hard—to pick just one recipe to share with you this week. There are so many that look divine, so many that I want to try. Today’s recipe for Red Rice, Cucumber, and Avocado Salad is a merge of the Bhutanese Red Rice Pilaf and the Chinese Black Rice, Orange, and Avocado Salad in the book. Both looked incredible, but I couldn’t find Chinese black rice in my grocery store. Red rice was available, however, so I concocted up a recipe using it instead and altering some of the salad ingredients a bit.
The result is a refreshing salad perfect on it’s own over greens as a light lunch or dinner, or as a hearty side dish to something liked grilled fish. Because the red rice cooks more quickly than traditional brown, it’s a fun one to whip up on weeknights when you might have less time to spend cooking dinner but still want something hearty and full of whole grain goodness.
Red Rice, Cucumber, and Avocado Salad – Serves 4
1 cup Bhutanese red rice, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups water
1 medium cucumber, peeled or partially peeled and seeded
1/2 small red onion
1 medium avocado
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs. olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Combine the rice and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Cover, then reduce heat to very low and simmer for 18-22 minutes until rice is fluffy and water is absorbed.
To cool rice quickly, spread it out on a rimmed baking dish or large shallow baking dish. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
While rice cools, prepare the vegetables: chop the cucumber into small dice, finely chopped the red onion, and dice the avocado.
Mix the cooled rice with the cucumber, red onion, pumpkin seeds, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Gently fold in the diced avocado. Serve immediately.
(To prepare in advance: combine the cooled rice with all ingredients except pumpkin seeds and avocado. Refrigerate for up to 5 hours. Stir in the seeds and avocado just before serving.)
If you’ve missed the past two weeks of cookbook exploration here at Daily Bites, check out my posts on The New Book of Middle Eastern Food and Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet. You may want to subscribe to the Daily Bites feed so that you don’t miss more of this tasty series!
Come on back next week for a taste of Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen, by none other than the incredible Deborah Madison.