I feel that one of the most refreshing things to eat during the summer is grain based salads. There is something about them that is so satisfying! They are filling, yet light. You can make the salad early in the day and chill until dinner, which saves your slaving over a hot stove in hot weather. I have been literally craving salads topped with all sorts of grain based salads, so you will probably be seeing some more in the near future.
But, to share one recipe that works for us, I’ll start here. This recipe was “born” on a hot day, during one of those craving episodes. I wanted something chewy for the grain part, which is why I choose a wild rice mix instead of just brown rice. The wild rice gives a nice texture, flavor and color to the salad. I also wanted something sweet- enter red grapes, something to offset the sweetness-salty cheese, and for extra crunch, toasted walnuts.
I choose to make a champagne vinaigrette because it wouldn’t add to much tartness, but would instead support the leading flavors of the dish. It adds enough tartness to balance the dish, but not enough to take over.
The verdict? Delicious, refreshing, and perfect for a warm summer night. While my portion didn’t have the very delicious cheese (aren’t I generous to make food for my family and guests that I can’t eat?), I still enjoyed it immensely. My favorite way to eat it was actually over a green salad. I found it the perfect combination. If you need to make it dairy free, I think it’s pretty good without the cheese, just add a little extra salt.
Before we get to the recipe, I wanted to mention that I think this would be a lovely dish for the Fourth of July. I wish you and your family a joyful celebration of freedom and liberty tomorrow.
Gorgonzola, Walnut and Grape Rice Salad
If you want to chill this, make sure you leave plenty of time for yourself. Check out my comments on the bottom of the post for more information.
2 cups of a wild rice mix*
Combine in a medium pot with 4 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to the lowest setting and cook for 50 minutes or until done. When done, remove from heat, take of the lid and cool while you get the rest of the ingredients ready. You want to combine the ingredients with the rice when it is still warm (it will soak in more flavor), but not pipping hot. If you need to cool quickly, turn out onto a large plate and stir/flip over occasionally.
1 cup of red grapes, washed and halved or quartered
1 cup of celery, washed and very thinly sliced
1 cup of toasted walnuts (toasted in a heavy pan over med-high heat, just until slightly browned and aromatic)
Around 1/4 to 1/3 of a pound of Gorgonzola, crumbled, (probably around 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup)
1/3 cup of champagne vinegar
2/3 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
I garlic clove
Combine dressing ingredients and pour over the rest of the ingredients. Toss to mix. Serve this dish at room temperature, or chilled.
We eat grains salads room temperature on mild days or in the winter. But on hot days, I like it chilled for at least a few hours. I even have put grain salads in the freezer to more quickly cool them (just don’t forget it and stir it once in a while!). Just beware that it will soak up some of the dressing when you chill it, so toss with a little extra vinegar and oil for more flavor right before serving.
*The mix I used included regular brown rice, red rice, short brown rice, and wild rice