Cold grain salads really hit the spot during the summer. We live on them all summer long!
On Saturday evening, I took cold cooked millet and mixed it together with shredded roast beef, goat feta cheese, diced onions, olives, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The dinner was great and cooling on a day that reached 100 degrees.
In this post, I’ll share a general formula for creating your own cold grain salads, based on the foods your family enjoys and what your pantry contains.
In a cold grain salad, the grains should be soaked, cooked, then chilled ahead of time. It is good to do your cooking in the morning when it is still cool – or better yet, if you have a roaster oven, you can set it up outside to cook your grains, which won’t heat up your house at all. These are some of the (already soaked and cooked, then chilled) grains we’ve used in cold main dish salads:
- Soaked Brown Rice
- Wild rice
Refer to the Grain Cooking Chart (or the Gluten-Free Grain Cooking Chart) for grain/water ratios, along with directions and options for overnight soaking, which is very important to aid in digestion.
You’ll also want to have some type of meat, already cooked and chilled. The meat can be plain, as it will get seasoned in the salad. Or, if you cook it already marinated, it will add flavor to the salad. Either way, it is delicious! These are great meats to include in a cold grain salad:
- Pastured chicken chunks
- Grass-fed shredded roast beef
- Grass-fed ground beef (when cooking, keep it chunky, but small chunks)
- Wild-caught salmon chunks
- Pastured pork bacon bits
- Chunks of pastured pork ham
- Chunks of pastured pork or lamb sausage
There are so many add-ins. This won’t be exhaustive:
- Diced veggies, such as onions, peppers, zucchini, squash, cucumbers
- Veggies, such as peas or snap peas
- Sliced olives
- Chunks of raw cheese – feta, cheddar, etc.
- Cold, cooked beans – pintos, black beans, garbanzos/chickpeas
The dressing is really up to you. Our favorite is a viniagrette made from extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar (sulfite-free), salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs. Also good would be a honey-mustard, a natural ranch-type dressing (I’m working on a super good one right now), or a yogurt/kefir based herb dressing.
You mix up all the ingredients. Taste, taste, taste (of course to adjust seasonings). It is best to let it chill for an hour or so, to let the flavors mingle together. Another tasting might be necessary to make seasoning adjustments. 😉
Try one! Let me know what you mix together and how your family likes it! Feel free to share what else you do for cooling eating during the summer.
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Wardee, can you explain how to soak the grains and then how long to cook? thank you my sweet friend..warm loving hugs from Vermont
You can refer to the chart in a post I just added for the amount of water and cooking times:
BUT… also add some acid medium to the soaking water. This would be: Kombucha, raw apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk, kefir, whey, yogurt, etc. You would use 1 tablespoons per cup of water. Start the soaking the night before, so it is at least 7 to 8 hours.
Once you get in the habit of soaking, it is really an easy routine to keep up. 🙂 Let me know if you have questions!
Mona, I just updated my comment with a better link for you. I’m writing this just in case you saw the first one, but didn’t know I updated it.
Mrs. Joseph Wood says
I am really looking forward to making this. I have never soaked my grains but have friend that keep encouraging me to do so. I really think I will give it a try! Thanks for the post!
I also love cold grain salads. Yum! In fact, I am making one for dinner tonight. 🙂
.-= Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet´s last blog post… $10 Main: Asian Cabbage Salad =-.
Kimi – Yumm! What’s yours gonna be?
I have a few questions. 🙂 Would you serve this as a main dish or a side dish? It sounds like a meal in itself. Suggestions for accompanying dishes? And do you combine different grains?
.-= Marg´s last blog post… The barn roof =-.
Marg – great questions! I have served it as both a main dish or a side dish. It depends on the occasion, the company, etc. One family we had over is not that adventurous with food, so it was a side dish. 🙂 With it, I served a chicken salad and bread and salad. It was a cold meal, altogether. Another time, I served it alongside a wild salmon salad. And once with baked salmon. I have combined different grains, yes. Millet and rice are nice together. Wild rice and quinoa are nice together. Have fun with it! Be sure to let me know what you make! 🙂
Hi Wardee, I’m letting you know what I made! 😀
Thank you so much for the inspiration and for answering my questions. 🙂
.-= Marg´s last blog post… Rainy day in the kitchen =-.
Thanks, Marg! I love what you did with your salad. I will have to try the maple viniagrette sometime. 🙂
If you can adapt it to your pantry, it’s really good! Maybe sometime you can share your vinaigrette recipes with us. 🙂
.-= Marg´s last blog post… Rainy day in the kitchen =-.
Today I made this with quinoa, cold roasted chicken, carrots, peas, cucumbers, green onions, green peppers, cheddar crumbles, diced tomato, and hard-boiled eggs. I used the dressing from this recipe: http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/03/everyday-italian-rice-salad.html#more-1186 since I knew I liked it. 🙂
It was marvelous! My husband told me tonight “This salad rocks.” So perfect for a miserably hot day!
.-= Mindy´s last blog post… just desserts =-.
I was over here collecting some recipes for the beans portion of the ecourse, and I happened to see your comment that you are working on a super good natural recipe for a ranch-type dressing. Did you ever perfect that? I’ve been trying different variations of my own for a long time now and I would LOVE to know what you’ve put together.
Wendy – Hi! Here it is:
It is very flexible, and we like it VERY much!