Don’t restrict your salads to only leafy greens. These healthy whole grains add a burst of flavor, texture, and nutrients to make boring salads more exciting.
Barley is a nutty, chewy grain that is delicious sprinkled over mixed greens. The dietary fiber in barley contains beta glucans, which may reduce blood cholesterol. Barley also contains niacin, which has been found to protect against cardiovascular disease. Choose hulled barley over pearled barley as it still contains some of the bran and endosperm of the grain. To cook, simmer 1 cup of dry hulled barley in about 3 ½ cups of water for 60 minutes, or until tender and chewy.
Bulgur is a cracked wheat that is often used in Middle Eastern tabbouleh salads of parsley, mint, and garlic. Bulgur is lower in calories and carbohydrates and has more fiber than many other grains, including quinoa. Because it is pre-cooked before it is sold, bulgur takes less time to prepare than most whole grains. Simmer 1 cup of bulgur in 2 ½ cups of water for about 10 minutes, or you can pour boiling water over the grains and let them sit for 1 hour to soften.
Kamut is a form of wheat with a chewy grain and a rich, buttery flavor. It makes delicious cold grain salads and can be stirred into vegetable salads like broccoli slaw. Kamut is higher in protein than other forms of wheat and provides vitamin E. Soak kamut overnight and drain. Simmer 1 cup of soaked kamut in 3 cups of water for 45 to 60 minutes.
Red rice is a whole grain from Bhutan with a nutty, earthy flavor. When cooked, it turns a pale pink color, and its flavor goes well with salads made of roasted mushrooms and peppers. Red rice is a gluten-free grain that contains potassium and magnesium. To prepare, bring 1 cup of the rice to a boil in 1 ½ cups of water. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
Wheat berries are whole wheat kernels that have a nutty flavor and a chewy texture similar to barley and kamut. They make a hearty topping for mixed green salads and work well as a base for cold grain salads. Both red and white wheat berries are whole grains that contain protein, fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. Rinse 1 cup of wheat berries well, and bring to a boil in 4 cups of water. Reduce heat and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes.