Healthy Eating: Protein-packed whole-grain salad is healthy
Back in my restaurants days, we used to make a delicious summer salad of white rice with peas, shredded carrots and radishes dressed with a dill mayonnaise. It was tasty and filling but, in retrospect, I can't say it was terribly nutritious. But I figured there had to be a way to make it lighter, and there was.
I started by replacing the white rice with farro. An ancient and nutritious form of whole wheat from Italy, farro boasts a pleasingly nutty taste and a slightly chewy texture. It's not as popular here as it should be because too many home cooks think that it is complicated and/or time consuming to make. Neither is true.
What is true is that the prep time for farro depends largely on the variety you buy. There are three kinds sold in America — whole, semi-pearled and pearled. All three tend to be labeled simply “farro,” though the instructions on the back of the package are more specific.
Whole farro — bran and husk included — is the most nutritious and takes the longest to cook. Pearled farro — with the bran and husk removed — takes the least time. In any case, just follow the instructions on the back of the package and plan ahead. If you cook a big batch during the weekend, you can freeze it in 2-, 3- or 4-cup portions, then use just what you need during the week.
I retired the peas in the original recipe in favor of edamame. Peas are plenty nutritious, but edamame really jack up the protein content. Steamed in the pod, then sprinkled with salt — simple and delicious — edamame are a staple appetizer in Japanese restaurants. Most grocers offer both shelled and in-the-pod varieties (check the freezer aisle). For this recipe, you'll want the shelled version. They boil in about 5 minutes.
I've retained the shredded carrots and the radishes from the original recipe, but I've ditched the full-fat mayonnaise in favor of ranch dressing. Thanks to its buttermilk base, ranch dressing is one of those magical ingredients that is at once full of flavor and low in calories. I partnered the buttermilk with some of the usual suspects: a bit of oil, a bit of low-fat mayonnaise and some garlic and fresh herbs. Then, I kicked in a twist of my own, chopped cucumber, which adds a fresh flavor. At the end of the day, this is a dressing with legs; it would make a lovely dip for raw vegetables and a tangy sauce for grilled chicken or shrimp.
The salad as a whole also is pretty versatile. If you have carnivores coming for dinner, you can bulk it up with some chicken or shrimp. I'd be content with a sprinkling of feta, but I know The Husband — like so many guys — would appreciate something more substantial.
Chef Sara Moulton writes this column for the Associated Press.
Farro and Vegetable Salad With Cucumber Ranch Dressing
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped seedless cucumber
1⁄4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon, dill or parsley
2 cups cooked farro (following package directions)
1 cup cooked shelled edamame
1 cup coarsely shredded carrots
1 cup coarsely shredded radishes
1⁄2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
In a blender, combine the cucumber, mayonnaise, buttermilk, garlic, lemon juice, oil and salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Stir in the chives and tarragon, then transfer to a jar and set aside.
In a large bowl, toss together the farro, edamame, carrots and radishes. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, add the feta to the salad, if using. Toss the salad with two thirds of the dressing, then divide among 6 serving plates. Serve the extra dressing on the side.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 240 calories (110 calories from fat), 12 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 15 milligrams cholesterol, 9 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams dietary fiber, 310 mg sodium
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- How to land that 1st job after college
- New J.C. Penney CEO comes from middle-income America
- Corporate America speaking out on social issues, getting results
- Seneca Valley, Pitt grad Smith one step away from majors with White Sox
- Truffle dogs sniff out pungent fungus prized by foodies
- Early turnout strong for Pittsburgh’s Fourth of July festivities
- Importance stressed of securing your online banking
- Pirates notebook: Taillon headed for surgery, Richard traded
- Post-war ‘welcome’ still stings Vietnam War veteran from Connellsville
- New Penguin Kessel’s shot is what makes him special
- Ex-teammates say Kessel unfairly criticized