Grain vs. grains

Two salads

During the hot days of summer, cool salads feel just right and news feeds buzz with recipes for salads made with grains and grain products. The LA Times sings the praises of grain salads. Meanwhile, the NY Times is promoting cool noodle dishes as perfect summer food. This has all the makings of a classic East Coast/West Coast rivalry, in this case heavyweights Russ Parsons (Team Grains) vs. David Tanis (Team Pasta).

Parsons, the advocate for grain salads, notes the variety and “range of new flavors and textures” you can get with by substituting different grains like farro, quinoa, and barley. What’s more, you can make a big batch of the grain on one day and vary the add-ins to make each salad unique. Tanis, advocating for pasta salads, points out the many ethnicities that feature cold noodle salads: you can easily make Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Middle Eastern variations. Interestingly, both men think couscous belongs on their side. Russ Parsons notes that couscous “looks like a grain and acts like a grain,” so he wants to claim it. Tanis does not make such a statement; he quietly assumes the claim by describing a salad made with Israeli couscous. 

Of course, the only real rivalry here is between our own taste buds for tonight’s dinner; we can enjoy both types of salads all summer long. And let’s not forget another salad featuring grain: bread salad. While you chew on that, here are a few popular grain and pasta salad recipes from the EYB Library:

Couscous and mograbiah with oven-dried tomatoes from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
Roasted broccoli and farro salad with feta from Fine Cooking Magazine
Kale and quinoa salad with ricotta salata from Smitten Kitchen
Chinese noodle salad with roasted eggplant  from Orangette
Double tomato pasta salad from Tinned Tomatoes

What is your favorite salad made with grain (or a grain product)?

Photos of Couscous & mograbiah and Chinese noodle salad from the EYB Library





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  • ellabee  on  July 15, 2014

    A tie between tabbouleh and udon noodles with peanut-sesame sauce.

  • Rinshin  on  July 20, 2014

    LOL – for me it's always chilled noodle salads whether ramen, soba, udon, somen, or Western style pasta types. But I love tabbouleh too. Trying to warm up to grain salads though.

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