The key to my heart comes in the form of a grain salad. Weird? Well, maybe for some. Growing up there was often a salad of tabbouleh or side of bulghur on the table, adding balance to our family meals. The idea that grains and pulses are often viewed as diet foods just baffles me. For me they provide an essential source of nutrition and are an everyday staple in my diet, open to suggestion and happy to absorb and be dressed with anything I’ve got to hand.
I’m constantly on the quest for new combinations and flavour pairings. Whether I choose bulghur, freekeh, farro, quinoa or another such grain, I always use my basic herby grain salad recipe and build on that. Although one thing’s for sure, regardless of what I end up throwing in, it needs to work as a nutritious and filling meal, and something I can store in the fridge for moments where time is scarce or energy and imagination is lacking.
By no means am I going to try and pass this salad off as a take on tabbouleh. Those of you who have ever tried the real thing will know that the bulghur only makes a cameo appearance and parsley is the star. But my basic grain recipe was inspired with tabbouleh in mind. This particular take is packed full of protein with sardines, walnuts and boiled egg, with playful sweet and sour notes brought to the palate by the raisins and capers. For any salad skeptics out there I truly hope you try this.
Throw in whatever you have available and tweak it to suit your taste. This also works well with peas, some basil, chicken and avocado or other fruits like dried apricots or figs, pomegranate or even a few segments of blood orange.
Basic Grain Salad with Sardines, Beetroot and Egg
- Basic grain salad
250g cooked quinoa
Large bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Large bunch of fresh mint, roughly chopped
About a teaspoon or so of chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon raisins
1 tablespoon capers, roughly chopped
Small handful of walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 of a large cucumber, diced
- The extras
1 beetroot, thinly sliced
A few sardine fillets, bones removed and torn into pieces
1 egg, boiled for 8 minutes
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a glug of olive oil. Top with the egg and garnish with a sprinkle of sumac and dill.