I'm in the middle of Mark Bittman's latest book, Food Matters, in which he advocates replacing much of the meat in our diets with produce and whole grains. I've been gradually doing this anyway, but his commonsense approach has been a nice boost to my resolve. Because if it was up to my reptile brain, an all-hot dog diet would not be out of the question.
Simple grain salads are a fantastic way to follow Bittman's plan. They're versatile and easy to make, and anyone can create their own using this simple formula:
whole grain+simple dressing+bulk add-ons= delicious, healthy grain salad
Black Bean and Quinoa Salad (from a previous H&D column) is a fine example, as is Bulgur Wheat Salad with Avocado, Raisins and Almonds. Adapted from Fine Cooking, it's both citrusy and nutty, with lots of textural variation. The original recipe calls for quinoa, but I tried wheat bulgur at a restaurant last week and needed to buy some as quickly as possible. The taste is surprisingly complex, and it takes to savory flavors like the dickens.
Though calorie dense and not low in fat, this may be the single healthiest dish I've ever eaten. I felt energized afterward, and wasn't hungry again for many hours. It didn't seem like a chore, either, as green salads sometimes do. Bonus: it only got better overnight.
So, go forth and whip up some grain salads, my friends. And if you want to add hot dogs, your secret's safe with me.
Adapted from Fine Cooking.
- Yield:4 cups
- 1 cup bulgur wheat
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons regular raisins
- 1 large lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cround coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 firm but ripe avocado, diced
- 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cook bulgur wheat as directed. When finished, spread out on a cool surface and let it come to room temperature.
In a small bowl, combine raisins with enough hot water to cover them. Drain after 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, zest the lemon. To it, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, olive oil, coriander, cumin, paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk it all together.
In a large bowl, combine bulgur wheat, dressing, raisins, avocado, scallions, and almonds. Stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. (Don't skip that part.) Serve.