Recipes: Cooking With Whole Grains

As fresh, increasingly local, produce makes its way into the market, my mind turns to all of the healthful ways I can use this bounty as the long days of summer approach. One thing is for certain, if the sun is shining I don’t want to be toiling in my kitchen cooking elaborate meals! I’d much rather be riding my bike, hiking the trails, or lounging in my hammock with a great book! My go to plan for the summer? Whole grain salads made with an array of healthful vegetables, legumes, or protein. These powerhouse salads can be prepared in advance, and provide a light and healthy option for a main course or side dish alongside grilled fish or chicken. Try the recipes and then start playing with them…substitute different vegetables or grains. Have a favorite homemade salad dressing? Give it a try on one of these salads. Add a dollop of hummus or a drizzle of balsamic, a few shrimp or a bit of feta. If you come up with a winner, please be sure to share it with us all!! I’d be delighted to add your creations to the recipe list for everyone to try!

Remember, whole grains are a good source of protein, but most are lacking in at least one of the nine essential amino acids (those are the ones our bodies can’t make). Fortunately, legumes are high in the amino acid that most whole grains skimp on….voila, a marriage made in heaven! Ever notice how many cuisines feature some variation of whole grain plus legumes? Rice and beans anyone?!


2 cups soft wheat berries, rinsed

6 cups water

2 teaspoons sea salt

Grated zest and juice of 1 ORGANIC orange (when using zest, be sure to choose organic produce)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced shallot

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper to taste

3 generous handfuls baby spinach leaves, stemmed and well rinsed

½ cup toasted pine nuts

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Combine wheat berries, cold water, and 2 teaspoons salt in large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered, until wheat berries are plump and chewy, about an hour or more. Berries should be al dente when done, so taste a few and see. Drain, season with salt and set aside. While wheat berries are cooking, toast pine nuts in dry skillet or toaster oven set to 200 degrees. Be sure to watch pine nuts to prevent burning. Combine orange zest and juice, lemon juice, and shallot. Whisk in olive oil and season with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Toss the hot wheat berries with the spinach, toasted pine nuts, and citrus dressing. Top with feta cheese and sprinkle with additional salt if needed. Chill. Serves 4-6.


6 cups water

2 cups farro (wheat berries can be substituted)

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 cup shelled fresh fava beans or frozen baby lima beans

1 cup fresh peas or frozen peas

2 cups fresh arugula leaves, stemmed and halved as necessary

3 plum tomatoes, seeded, finely chopped

Combine cold water and farro in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover partially, simmer until tender, about 20 minutes (if using wheat berries, increase cooking time to 45 minutes or more). Drain well. Whisk oil and vinegar in large bowl; add salt to taste. Add farro and toss. Cool before serving. Serves 6-8.

GREEK GRAIN SALAD (adapted from )

1 pound barley

½ pound rye berries

½ pound wheat berries

1 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup cucumber, ¼ -inch dice

1 cup tomato, ¼ -inch dice

½ cup red onion, ¼ -inch dice

½ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

½ cup fresh dill, chopped

¼ cup cider vinegar

¼ cup minced dill

4 garlic cloves, minced

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring large pot of water to boil. Add the barley and cook 15 minutes. Using sieve, remove barley from water and transfer to a bowl. Bring water back to boil and add salt, to taste. Add barley, rye and wheat berries and cook, stirring occasionally, 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain, transfer to bowl, and cool. While grains cool, whisk together vinegar, dill, and garlic. Slowly add olive oil to make smooth dressing. Season with salt and pepper. When grains are cooled, combine with remaining ingredients. Toss with dressing, chill, and serve. Makes 6 servings.

ANCIENT GRAIN SALAD (adapted from )

¼ cup bulgur

¼ cup millet

½ cup quinoa, well rinsed

¼ cup dried cranberries or cherries

½ cup chopped parsley

¼ cup chopped celery

¼ cup chopped red pepper

¼ cup chopped peeled apple

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon salt

Pour 1 cup boiling water over bulgur, cover, and allow to sit and absorb for 30 minutes. Cook millet in 1 ½ cups water and boil for about 5 minutes. Add quinoa to millet mixture and continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Add ½ cup boiling water to cranberries or cherries to plump them. Drain and reserve liquid. Drain water off bulgur, quinoa/millet mixture. Mix all ingredients together in large bowl. Add reserved cranberry water to remainder of vinaigrette ingredients and whisk well. Add vinaigrette to grain mixture and allow to cool in fridge for 20 minutes to let flavors blend. Makes 4 servings.


1 (14 ½ ounce) can vegetable broth

2 cups fresh chopped vegetables of your choice 

1 cup cracked bulgur wheat

¼ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chickpeas (cooked from dry beans or canned, rinsed well and drained)

¼ cup fresh basil, minced

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Combine broth and veggies in large saucepan. Cook chopped vegetables in boiling broth for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. In the meantime, put cracked wheat in large bowl. Pour veggies and broth over cracked wheat. Do not stir. Cover and let stand 1 hour. To prepare dressing, whisk oil, lemon juice, mustard, and salt in small bowl. When bulgur is done soaking, pour dressing over mixture. Stir in chick peas and basil. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours. Toast almonds while salad is chilling. Mix into salad just before serving to retain crispness. Makes 8 servings

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