Summer Corn, Zucchini & Tomato Grain Salad with Lemon-Avocado Dressing

If there was ever a time to stop by a farmers market or join a CSA, this is it. Sweet corn, zucchini, eggplants, peppers, basil are cheap and plentiful and so much better than the sad plastic-wrapped versions you’ll find at Trader Joe’s. And because everything tastes so good, it takes almost no work to turn it into a quick grain-based salad full of bright colors and crunchy-chewy-soft textures.

My obsession with grain salads has been going strong for the last couple years, to the point where I actually have to tell myself, Do NOT make a grain salad! when pondering my dinner options. I can’t help it: they’re quick, adaptable, easy to load up with vegetables, and make good lunch leftovers the next day. You can eat them warm or cold. You can eat them in a house. You can eat them with a mouse. Box, fox, here, there, anywhere. I love them.

This particular salad uses a little of everything from my late-summer vegetable drawer, mixed with a lemon dressing made with avocado oil. The zucchini is prepped in my favorite way: sliced into shreds and tossed with salt to draw out some of the moisture, giving it a ton of flavor and a still-crunchy texture. The corn is cooked in its husk in the microwave, a new-to-me method that takes less than 5 minutes and has replaced my usual boiling-water bath.

And the grain I happened to have on hand is an odd find — pearled farro, which is a quicker-cooking (and less nutritious) version of farro, a type of wheat. I didn’t have a full cup left when I made the salad for these photos, so I supplemented with some quinoa. Feel free to use whatever grains you have on hand, though the size and texture of grains like barley and farro seem particularly well-suited for this combination.

Play around, use what you have on hand, add a little crumbled feta cheese if you’re feeling crazy and watch out. Because you just might get addicted to grain salads too.

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3 Heart-Healthy Oils to Add to Your Pantry

Remember the 1990s when everybody was terrified of fat and Snackwells were king? The cut-fat-out-of-everything approach turned out to be the wrong one and we’re all the happier for it. Except maybe the people at Nabisco*.

In the spirit of 2012, at the start of this year I decided to add some new heart-healthy oils to my cooking arsenal and I’ve never looked back. Here’s what I keep on hand and why:

Grapeseed oil: As I’ve mentioned, grapeseed oil is a great choice for cooking over high heat, much better than olive oil. Grapeseed oil has a neutral taste and very high smoke point, so I use it for nearly all my cooking. It’s also high in vitamin E and polyunsaturated fats, which help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

Walnut oil: I’ve fallen in love with this nutty, super-healthy oil, which is rich in antioxidants and is a great source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 essential fatty acid that decreases blood clotting and inflammation in the body. Beyond that, it just tastes really good — and I don’t even like walnuts generally. Its delicate flavor is lost when it is heated, so I use it in vinaigrettes or drizzled over soup. Store it in the fridge to keep it from going rancid.

Avocado oil: Like olive oil, avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats, as well as vitamin E. This is the priciest oil of the bunch, so I don’t use it very often, but when I do, I keep it simple, drizzling it over vegetables and fish, or mixing it into a creamy cilantro dressing. Avocado oil should also be stored in the fridge; it will get cloudy, but will clear up again when it comes to room temperature.

I also keep an unrefined extra-virgin olive oil on hand, which I mostly use for vinaigrettes (can you tell I love vinaigrettes?) or for drizzling over already-cooked ingredients, since the flavor is so much better if there is no heat involved. And I occasionally cook with virgin coconut oil when its intensely coconutty flavor and scent are appropriate.

In general, look for oils that are expeller-pressed, which means the oil is extracted by pressing the seed/nut/fruit rather than by using a solvent like hexane.

Upgrading your oil collection isn’t cheap, but unless you’re swigging the stuff, each bottle will last you awhile. And your happy heart will thank you.

 

* Is it just me or does the new Snackwells campaign have a Fifty Shades of Grey S&M vibe? Because nothing goes with patent leather stiletto boots like individually-portioned fudge pretzels!

Friday Links: September 7, 2012

Thanks to Amazon Instant Video, I’ve been catching up with Julia. (Follow me on Instagram: anjaliruth.)

 

What I’ve been reading:

Introducing Microgreens: Younger, And Maybe More Nutritious, Vegetables – NPR

I’m Sick of Food in Martini Glasses – Bon Appetit

Regulations do change eating behavior – Food Politics

The Truth About Sugar – Eating Well

 

What I’ve been cooking (on The Kitchn)

Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs

South African Cheese, Grilled Onion & Tomato Panini (Braaibroodjie)

…and thinking about cooking:

Black and Arborio Risotto With Beets and Beet Greens – The New York Times

Fermented Fruit Kvass – Green Kitchen Stories

Charred Fresh Garbanzo Beans

Last week our CSA box from Silver Lake Farms had an ingredient I’ve always wondered about, but hadn’t yet cooked with: fresh garbanzo beans! Still attached to their stems and hidden away in pods, they are the young, chubby-cheeked version of the usual dried-up old chickpeas.

I had to eat one raw, just to see what it was like, and it reminded me of a fresh pea: sweet and a little starchy. I’ve heard they can be treated like edamame, steamed or boiled and eaten out of the pod with a sprinkling of salt, or shelled and whizzed into a green hummus, or sauteed and dressed with a vinaigrette.

I decided to char the pods in a cast-iron skillet with oil and sea salt, and serve them in the pod as a finger food for a Saturday afternoon cocktail gathering that included Hilary and Alexi of Dawdling Darlings. I was running behind in my preparations, though, and didn’t get as much of a char on the pods as I wanted, because they arrived and the dog was flipping out and I had to take the beans off the heat so I could rescue my guests.

Next time I’ll keep the dog in the kitchen and let the garbanzos cook a little longer.

I’ll also be more careful to pick out the very yellowed pods, as the beans inside are a little too dry and starchy for this preparation.

Despite those caveats, this is a dead-simple little snack that is as fun and tasty as edamame, but a lot more interesting.

Get the recipe: Charred Garbanzos at New York Magazine

(Look for fresh garbanzo beans at farmers markets or Whole Foods.)

EYG Gets a Makeover

Welcome to my new look! Thanks to the talented Lindsay at Purr Design, Eat Your Greens is a newer, prettier, better-organized version of its old self, with nicer printable recipes and a more useful design. I hope you like it!

Speaking of liking, I also have a Facebook page now, ready for you to like. Or “like.” Whatever, just click the button. I’m not sure what will happen, but probably exciting photos and recipes and healthy-food-related tidbits will occasionally show up in your feed.

Now get off the Internet and enjoy your long weekend!