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Grain Salad with Pickled Onions and Herbs

Grain Salad with Pickled Onions and Herbs

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Freekeh is green wheat with a slightly smoky flavor we love, but any whole grain you have on hand will work. This recipe from Dimes is part of Healthyish Superpowered, a dinner series honoring female activists and chefs across the country, in partnership with Caviar.


  • 1 small bunch of Tuscan kale
  • 1½ cups whole or cracked freekeh (from one 9-oz. package)
  • ½ red onion, very thinly sliced
  • ½ garlic clove, finely grated
  • 5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds, finely ground
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup mint leaves, coarsely chopped

Recipe Preparation

  • Cook broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water (leave florets attached to stem so it’s easier to get in and out of the pot) over medium-high heat just until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Cook kale (again, leave on the stem to cook it) by dipping into the water just long enough to let the color turn bright green, about 10 seconds. Transfer to plate with broccoli; reserve pot of water. Let vegetables cool, then squeeze out any excess water.

  • Cook freekeh in salted water in reserved pot at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 20–25 minutes for cracked freekeh or 40–50 minutes for whole. Drain freekeh well, transfer to a medium bowl, and let cool until just warm.

  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Toast pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 5–8 minutes. Let cool; set aside.

  • Combine onion, garlic, oil, lemon juice, capers, red pepper, and fennel in another medium bowl; season with salt and black pepper. Let dressing sit until ready to use.

  • Cut broccoli florets off of stems and thinly slice stems. Cut kale from stalks and coarsely chop. Add vegetables to freekeh in bowl and toss to combine.

  • Add basil, cilantro, and mint to dressing; season again with salt and black pepper, if needed.

  • Add half of dressing to freekeh along with reserved pistachios; season with salt and toss to combine. Spoon remaining dressing over.

  • Do Ahead: Freekeh can be cooked 5 days ahead. Let cool, then transfer to an airtight container and chill. Dressing (without herbs) can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Reviews SectionAbsolutely delicious. Made it for the family and it was a huge crowd pleaser. Followed the directions closely except I used farro instead of freekeh and needed to add a bit more lemon juice (because I like the kick). Would 100% make again.AnonymousLos Angeles, CA06/22/20This is the perfect spring/summer side dish. I made a few minor adjustments based on what I had in my pantry, but this recipe is great for that. I swapped farro for freekeh, massaged kale for tuscan, fresh fennel fronds for seeds, sunflower seeds for pistachios, brussel sprouts for broccoli, and ditched the capers. I also used sweet onions that I had pickled separately for another recipe. Will definitely be making this again.AnonymousNew Jersey05/05/20Tasty and healthy lunch time recipe. I pre-soaked my freekeh as well for a couple of hours, so it was quick to throw together. I've got another two servings at least left, so a good "packed lunch" for lockdown. The dressing seems very lemony but once it's dressed the green veg and grains, it's the right balance! Yum!AnonymousLondon, UK04/24/20Very tasty and flavorful. Didn't have mint and substituted pumpkin seeds for pistachios because that's what I had on hand. Really nice mixture of textures and flavors. I ended up doubling the dressing because this makes a lot of salad! The red onion was a bit strong so I might leave them out next time.AnonymousCalifornia 01/27/19

Weeknight Mediterranean Grain Bowl with Chicken

This Mediterranean grain bowl is a fast, easy, super satisfying meal that can double as lunch or dinner on a busy week. It’s packed with good-for-you ingredients and is so flexible, it will keep the whole family happy.

These bowls were inspired by my love for CAVA. Have you ever been to a CAVA? It’s a fast-casual chain where you build your own Mediterranean grain bowl. It’s a simple concept, but what makes their bowls so incredibly satisfying is the toppings. It’s all about the toppings.

How to Make Pickled Onions

You won’t believe how easy it is to make red pickled onions.

Start off by peeling and thinly slicing the red onions (preferably with a mandolin slicer), then cut into half-moons. Peel and slice garlic cloves if you are adding them to the recipe.

Second step: Add white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, water, sugar of choice, and salt to a pot, then bring to a boil. Then, quickly reduce the heat to a simmer. If you are using dried spices, add them to this also.

Third step: Add onions to the pot and simmer for one minute then turn off the heat and allow them to cool a bit so you can handle them.

That’s it! Now, add onion and liquid to a clean, pint-sized jar. If you are adding garlic or fresh herbs, add them now.

Place jar in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving (longer is better).

How to Make Cucumber Salad

This recipe is quick and easy to toss together. Here’s all you need to do:

  1. First, add the sliced English cucumbers and onion to a large bowl along with the honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt, and fresh dill. Toss it all together and put the bowl in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes.
  2. After the mixture has chilled, transfer it to a serving dish, leaving behind any excess liquid.
  3. Top the cucumber salad with fresh mint leaves and pickled mustard seeds, if you’re using them.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

Find the full recipe below!

Wholesome, Good Grains

In this fluffy salad, chef Yotam Ottolenghi blends South American quinoa with nutty Camargue red rice from southern France. The salad gets a fruity sweetness from orange juice and zest and is brilliant alongside roast chicken.

Here we coat the shrimp with a potent mix of fennel seeds, dried oregano, and garlic and onion powders. The quinoa is flavored with a vibrant, pesto-like pistou, made with a judicious amount of oil.

Bulgur (a quick-cooking form of whole wheat) is usually boiled before it's eaten, but for this terrific main-course salad, it's softened in warm tap water before being tossed with baby spinach and precooked shrimp.

At L.A. Bento in Los Angeles, chef Chad Aaland makes quinoa salad with three types of beans and house-pickled onions. This streamlined version with black beans and jarred cocktail onions is tasty, too.

Looking for a lively, summer grain salad? Look no further. Pair with Pecorino cheese for extra bite.

Ubuntu's Jeremy Fox tosses nutty-tasting quinoa with crunchy shaved vegetables for a refreshing salad loaded with vitamins and minerals.

As a nod to their Norwegian heritage, Sophie Dahl and her family ate blini (mini pancakes) topped with smoked salmon every Christmas Eve. Now Dahl makes the blini with wonderfully earthy buckwheat flour and serves the salmon-topped hors d'oeuvres at parties throughout the year.

"Quinoa is a miracle food," says Bruce Sherman. Native to the Andes Mountains, the nutty, protein-rich grain is now also grown in the U.S. Sherman tosses it with smoky bacon and toasted almonds to make a substantial side dish that's delicious with poached eggs or roasted chicken.

Paul Kahan serves dishes like spicy pork rinds at his Chicago restaurant, The Publican, but he was game to create a healthy alternative. His idea: a focaccia made with spelt flour, which is high in protein and gives the bread an appealingly hearty texture. Instead of using an excessive amount of cheese or meat, he tops the focaccia with tangy marinated kale, soft and sweet slices of winter squash, and a few shavings of nutty, salty pecorino cheese.

Quick Pickle the Radishes and Onions:

  • 1 bunch radishes (sliced)
  • 1 red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup white vinegar (distilled white vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

Add radishes and red onions to a large quart size mason jar (or 2 pint size jars). (You can add the vegetables to separate jars or put them together). Add everything else, along with 1 cup of water, to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes until salt and sugar are dissolved. Immediately pour the liquid over the radishes and onions until they are completely submerged. Set aside to cool to room temperature (about 1 hour). Then seal the jars with an air-tight lid, shake to evenly distribute the liquid and any seasonings, and place the jar (or jars) in the refrigerator.

The Epicurious Blog

The first time you make pickled red onions, you will very likely slap your forehead and exclaim to anyone who may be listening, "What took me so long?" Because this simple condiment--which couldn&apost be easier to prepare--has an uncanny, almost magical ability to completely transform just about every sandwich, burger, taco, sausage, and salad it touches.

Pickled red onions really are amazingly versatile, bringing a refreshing piquant-sweet flavor, appealing tender-crunchy texture, and gorgeous pink color to any number of foods (even my 4-year-old daughter loves them). Some recipes require nothing more than red-wine vine vinegar and salt (and onions of course), others are lime-based (my favorite for Mexican food), and still others incorporate spices like cinnamon, allspice, and/or cumin. Sugar obviously makes for a sweeter pickle, but it&aposs not necessary.

I like to slice the red onion in super thin rounds, and keep a pretty bowlful of a pickled batch in my fridge as often as possible. Just seeing them in the fridge usually inspires me to get off my butt and cook something delicious--yes, seriously.

Here are a few simple recipes to experiment with:

And here are 7 of our favorite ways to enjoy pickled red onions:

People: If you want to serve authentic-style Mexican tacos, pickled red onions are crucial, bringing a welcome acidity and texture. (Don&apost forget radishes, either!)

Pickled onions also add brightness and crunch to pulled chicken, brisket, and roast beef sandwiches.

Pickled red onions are so much more interesting than raw onion.

An excellent relish substitute, dawg.

We especially love the tart notes pickled red onion lends to kale salads. They&aposre great additions to so many grain salads, too.

Pickled onions made great accompaniments to so many Indian meals, but I especially love them in Naan sandwiches--rolled up with chicken tikka or panner curry. Throw in some chili for heat and complexity.

How to make

With only 10 minutes of hands-on time, this recipe is so easy!

  1. Combine salt and onion in a large mason jar or mixing bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Pour in vinegar, lime juice, oil, sugar, peppercorns, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, and garlic then shake or stir to combine.
  3. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours then serve and enjoy!

Pickled Spring Onion, Asparagus and Potato Salad

Like most people, I grew up on a classic potato salad made with a mayonnaise dressing—the kind that accompanies every backyard barbecue. As a cook, discovering the world of vinaigrettes meant total creativity and became integral to our cooking at The Plate. We dress all kind of grilled, roasted and blanched vegetables with this mustard vinaigrette. The salsa verde gives the potatoes a delicious herbiness, and is also great as a condiment on its own. The addition of pickled spring onions and asparagus to this potato salad celebrates all that’s delicious about Spring—and the mayonnaise-free dressing will surely stand up to the heat of summertime backyard parties, too.

2 pounds small new or fingerling potatoes, washed and quartered
salt and pepper to taste
1¼ pounds asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
4 small-to-medium radishes, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped chives
1–2 cups mixed spring garden herbs, like parsley, tarragon, dill, and basil
salsa verde (see recipe below)
mustard vinaigrette (see recipe below)
pickled spring onions (see recipe below)

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with one inch of water, adding 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the tip of a knife easily pierces through a potato. Drain the potatoes and let them cool on a sheet pan until they’re almost room temperature. (You can hasten this by covering them with cold water, and replacing the water a few times as it warms up.) Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, and quarter them if they’re really large.

Fill a saucepan with salted water and bring it to a boil. Prepare an ice bath—a large bowl with ice and water in it. Trim the tough ends off the asparagus and cut the stalks into ½ inch diagonal pieces. Once the water is boiling, add asparagus.

After 2 minutes, drain and transfer to the ice bath until chilled. Drain the asparagus again and spread it out on a towel to absorb excess water. Place the cooled asparagus in a large bowl. Add the potatoes, radishes, chives, and herbs. An hour or two before you’re ready to serve the salad, stir in the salsa verde and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat everything well. Stir in as many drained pickled onions as you like, saving the rest for anything and everything. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

For the pickled spring onions:
3 spring onions (about 6 ounces)
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt (I use Diamond brand use less if you’re using Morton or table salt)
1½ teaspoons sugar

Whisk vinegar, water, salt and sugar together in the bottom of a small container with a lid until the salt and sugar dissolve. Slice the bulbs and paler green parts into very thin coins and submerge them in the vinegar mixture. Cover and put in fridge until you’re ready touse them if you can, put them aside for an hour or even better, overnight.

For the mustard vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustards, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Slowly add extra-virgin olive oil, whisking until emulsified.

For the salsa verde:
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, picked
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

In a bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well. Add mixture to a food processor and pulse until well combined, but not too smooth. Adjust seasonings and add more salt or vinegar if needed. The mixture should be tangy and saucy.

Quick-Pickled Red Onions – No Fermenting Needed

I am someone who loves the taste of raw onions. I could eat them in my salads and on my burgers all the time and not get tired of them. However, sometimes it’s nice to change things up and give your meals a slightly different, less pungent flavor like these quick-pickled some red onions.

These quick-pickled red onions bring such a fun, magenta color to whatever you are eating. It’s hard not to enjoy the beauty of them, but the taste is something special as well. All you really need for this recipe is some red onion and some vinegar.

I recommend using a vinegar light in color, such as red wine vinegar, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Dark vinegar, such as balsamic, is too strong in flavor, plus they’re much more expensive. Option add-ins include a small amount of sugar, some salt, fresh herbs and other vegetables.

You can also do this with any other vegetable you’d like, there’s no need to limit it to just onions! Try this with cucumbers, carrots, ginger, garlic, carrots and cabbage. Pretty much any vegetable you can think of can be quick pickled.

It’s a fun intro to pickling, especially for someone who is sensitive to mold in foods and is avoiding fermented foods, such as myself. The quick pickling process is so fast that there almost no risk of mold formation.

The longer you leave these red onions in the fridge, the deeper the flavor will get. Fresh herbs also make fantastic additions to the pickling process. Bonus points if you have an herb garden and can just pick them straight off the stem and add to your jar!

There are so many ways to use the pickled onions as well. They’re perfect mixed into some Mediterranean lentils, or as a topping to some plantain chip nachos.

If you use the leftover vinegar in other recipes, this is also zero waste. Recipes don’t get much easier than this, guys! I hope you enjoy these incredibly tasty quick pickled red onions. If you liked these, please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of it!

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