Vegetable and Grain Salad

14 07 2011

You can try to plan it out.  You can try to make sure you have holiday-appropriate recipes all ready in advance.  You can spend hours taking that perfect photo.  You can read, and re-read, and edit.  You can post regularly, multiple times per week, or day.  There are lots of you who do, and that’s why your blogs are better than mine.  Me, I’m in a phase with my blog right now where I am just letting it come to me.  If I don’t have inspiration to write about something, I’m not going to force you to read my pained output.  I’ve got a couple of books I’ve been trying to write about for weeks now.  But I’m afraid the truth is I don’t have much to say about them.  What I am excited about right now, and what I want to share with you, is this:

Don't judge a book by its cover.

I know.  It kind of looks like barf.  But this is just one in a parade of such grain-and-vegetable salads I’ve made over the last few weeks.  I wouldn’t keep making if they weren’t tasty.  It started with a box of blé, which translates literally to “wheat” but often refers in French to a particular product that resembles wheat berries in the way that Uncle Ben’s resembles rice.  I acquired this box of blé when a friend was moving away, and Nick and I both actually like the stuff – it’s a nice change from rice or pasta – so using hasn’t really been a problem.  But one day it occurred to me, perhaps following a party at a friend’s where she served a couple of delicious grain-based salads, that I could use the blé as more than just a side dish.  Combine that epiphany with a weekly delivery of fresh vegetables and an uncommonly delicious salad dressing, and you’ve got what’s been a very popular dinner in my house of late.

So far I’ve done it with asparagus, broccoli, and zucchini, but I suspect it’s also good with green beans, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, winter squash… you get the idea.  When I finally ran out of blé, I bought and used petit épeautre* which was equally successful.  I originally wanted to type this up as a nice recipe (see above re: planning), but the more I think about it, the more I think this is something you should be able to play around with.

Here’s how it goes.  Cook your grains in a pot of boiling water.  (If they require it, as my spelt did, soak them ahead of time.)  While the grains are cooking, make the dressing** and prepare and cook your vegetables.  Roasting and sautéeing are my preferred methods, for the flavorful browned bits they produce, but if you’d rather just steam yours over the already boiling pot of water, that’s fine, too, and saves energy to boot.  When the grains are tender, drain them and gently stir in the vegetables and dressing.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  A little crisped bacon, chunks of ham, or shredded cooked chicken would be good additions, too, but I assure you it’s just fine without the meat.  Some toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds add a nice crunch.  Fresh herbs like parsley or basil could add a fresh note.  See what I mean?  This “recipe” is so infinitely adaptable I see no reason to commit to just one version.

Have fun with it, and happy Bastille Day!

*Anyone who knows the difference between spelt and farro, and their respective names in French, is implored to comment here and enlighten me and my readers.

** I linked to the dressing recipe above, but here’s my paraphrased version: take a small pot of plain yogurt (about 125 grams or 4 ounces), add 4 big spoonfuls of tahini, a big pinch of salt, the juice of half a lemon, and a couple of smashed garlic cloves.  Blend them together.  The flavor of this dressing can vary according to the juiciness of the lemon and the pungency of the garlic, but it is always delicious.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




20 responses

14 07 2011
Scrambled Megs

I’m up for giving this a try, looks barfy good to me!

14 07 2011

Happy Bastille Day Camille! The dressing sounds great – easy and fast.

15 07 2011

This. Sounds. Amazing. Tahini, yoghurt, and I’m imagining roasted cauliflower, roasted broccoli, and maybe even roasted chickpeas…

Also, “barf” always takes me back to American books like The Babysitter’s Club or, maybe, Judy Blume novels…. we say the far more classy “vomit” in Australia 😛

15 07 2011
Jenni Field

I love templates like this–endless variations, prolly limited only by the season. Love it. I’ve recently been experimenting with wheat berries; we are quite enjoying them!

Sometimes the tastiest things I make kinda look like barf. But don’t tell anyone! 😉

15 07 2011
Anna Johnston

Wawhoooo… Yay for this little toasty delight. Sounds amazingly tasty. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your posts, I’m with you, don’t post if youve got nothing to say.

15 07 2011

Scrambled Megs – Oh, please do!

Fiona – Thanks, and it is.

Hannah – I thought this would be right up your alley. 🙂

Jenni – It’s funny, isn’t it, how sometimes the things that taste the best look the worst.

Anna – You’re welcome!

16 07 2011

Hi Camille,

“farro” is an Italian generic name for all the three genres of Triticum commonly known as small, medium, large–otherwise known as Triticum spelta, hence spelt. So spelt is a specific genre of farro, a cereal that has been widespread in Italy in its three forms, way before Triticum aestivum (common wheat) was even introduced. Hope this helps!

17 07 2011
hungry dog

This is a great idea–simple and adaptable. And with a little crispy bacon I wouldn’t be able to resist…

17 07 2011

I’ve really come to appreciate the “flexibility” of cooking, before it would annoy me when I read recipes that weren’t exact, but now I actually quite like it!

19 07 2011

Paola – Thank you, that does help clarify things a bit!

hungry dog – A little pork product makes pretty much everything better…

Jessica – I think that’s a sign of becoming a better cook! 🙂

20 07 2011

Happy belated Bastille Day! I love your posts whether they are on topic for a holiday or not! I have enough trouble just finding time to post these days and so appreciate when people can keep it going with any regularity!

20 07 2011

I’m totally with you on the “letting it come to me” mode of blogging these days. I’m not sure it’s great for readership, but, hey, that’s what I got. Grain and veggie salads rock!

21 07 2011

Jessica – Thanks! Finding time can definitely be a challenge, butI always feel good when I get a new post up.

Hopie – Yep. On both counts.

22 07 2011
The Mistress of Spices

This sounds delish! I’m a huge fan of blé myself, but had also never thought to use it as anything other than an accompaniment. Duh…it has so much potential! Here’s the proof! Thanks for sharing, Camille!

23 07 2011

Yum! I made this at your suggestion with barley, cucumbers and a can of chick peas. It was delicious — LOVE that creamy, tangy dressing.

23 07 2011

I love grains in cereals. Found it a bit funny that your barf dish contained ble. Oh well. Off to cook up some wheat berries…

24 07 2011

As we dine around Provence, spelt known locally as Épeautre is currently a frequent fixture on restaurants menus. We love it and cook with it at home as well. Great post and recipe. I will try it out.

25 07 2011

Mistress of Spices – Hope you have fun playing around with blé in a whole new way!

Ann – I know, that dressing is fantastic, isn’t it? And I love the chickpea idea. Will definitely be trying that.

Tammy – That’s actually the spelt in the picture…

Michel – How interesting that it’s becoming more popular on restaurant menus!

26 07 2011

Hi Camille,

I recently did some research on the difference between Spelt and Farro. You can find two types of flour here in France, Epeautre and petit Epeautre. What I have gathered is one is Spelt and the other is Farro. The look a lot alike and come from the same grain family but one is takes much longer to cook and is more nutritious. Here’s a nice explanation as well that I found when doing my research:

28 07 2011

Jenni – Thank you so much! This helps a lot!

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