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I like making grain salads because they are easy, usually healthy, and I can whip them together quickly with ingredients I have on hand. I made an impromptu grain salad Friday for a block party. And, what’s funny, is I took a great cooking class last night from Fuel for the Soul, and one of the dishes followed the same basic 4 steps. SO…I feel especially justified sharing my approach with you. Explore and enjoy!

Step 1: Pick your veggies, fruits (fresh or dried) and/or herbs. Chop the ingredients. Typically the smaller the grain, the smaller the chop. But, it’s totally a personal preference.

Fresh Mint. I had to include!

Step 2: Pick your protein: meat, nuts and/or cheeses. Chop these to about the same size as the vegetables.

Step 3: Choose, or preferably make, your favorite dressing. Oil and vinegar, lemon juice and herbs, shallot vinaigrette. Although I am not a huge fan of store-bought dressings, if you have a favorite, go ahead and use it.

Step 4: Pick your grain: rice (wild, brown, red, white, combo), pasta, couscous, wheat berry, quinoa. Cook the grain. When it has finished cooking, combine all ingredients. You’ll want to add the dressing while the grain is still warm, so that it absorbs the flavors of the dressing. Eat warm, room temperature, or cold.

For my block party, this is what my salad consisted of

peppers, onions, nuts, garbanzo beans

Step 1: Peppers, grapes, green onions, mint

Step 2: Garbanzo beans, pecans

Step 3: Olive oil, vinegar, pink salt, and my favorite seasoning (Molly’s Mills Salad Blend: pepper, onion, tomato, lemon, celery)

Step 4: Brown and Wild Rice

Here are a few other favorite combinations to try:

  • Italian Pasta: Pasta, tomatoes, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella cheese, salami, basil, O&V
  • Summer Couscous: Couscous, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, olives, citrus dressing (or try a morocan-spiced vinaigrette)
  • Wheat Berry: Wheat berries, dried cherries, celery, nuts, chicken, and vinaigrette
  • Jenn’s Favorite: quinoa, any veggies you have in the kitchen, salt, pepper, O&V
  • Asian Noodle: Soba noodles, peppers, green onions, oranges, chicken, peanuts, asian soy-lime dressing
  • Lastly, the salad we made in cooking class: orzo, lots of fresh roasted vegetables, feta cheese, lemon vinaigrette

If you have a favorite combination, definitely let us know. We’ll give it a try!

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The Farmer’s Market usually inspires me to try new recipes or spend a little extra time in the kitchen. But some nights, I need a meal that is fast, easy, healthy and inexpensive. It’s nice to know that I can find the ingredients for those types of meals at the Farmer’s Market.

I added 2 Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon fillets (from Costco’s 3lb bag) and one lemon to my “market basket” and ended up with all the ingredients needed for a quick meal. The meal took 35 minutes to prepare, cost $4.25 per serving  for 4 nice size dinner portions, and resulted in very few dirty dishes. Now that’s a perfect quick meal.

Weeknight Pasta

2 Salmon fillets

1 lemon

1 lb fresh pasta

4 large handfuls spinach

8oz delicious sauce

+ salt, pepper, and olive oil

1) Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place a few spinach leaves on a large piece of aluminum foil, then top with salmon fillets in a single layer. Generously season with salt and pepper, add thin slices of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil . Fully enclose salmon in foil and bake 18-20 minutes in oven, until cooked through. This technique  is “en papillote”. To read more about en papillotte, and to get really hungry, read this article from the NY Times. The nice thing about en papillote is that it keeps the fish moist and flavorful AND there is no messy pan. What more could a busy gal want?

2) Heat pasta  water to a boil

3) Cut the spinach in to long shreds

4) When the salmon is just out of the oven, add the pasta to the boiling water. Fresh pasta cooks in 2-3 minutes. 

5) Drain pasta and immediately return to the pot. Add sauce and spinach. The sauce and spinach will warm and wilt slightly from the heat of the pasta.

6) Divide pasta in to 4 bowls, flake salmon on top. Serve.