Saturday, February 16th, 2013 at 11:52 pm

The Cooking Chronicles: Grab and Go Salads

My preference for both dinner and lunch are hot meals, but I have to say, throw together room temperature salads full of fresh vegetables, legumes and grains are really starting to grow on me. It’s not only a nice change-up, but they do make for an easy lunch – no need to queue for the microwave (maybe not an issue at your workplace, but it usually is at mine!), and in warmer weather, they would make the ideal portable picnic lunch.

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Spinach, Lemon and Feta

I bookmarked this recipe for orzo salad from Spilling the Beans (which has seemed to be my go-to book lately for dinner inspiration). It was perfect as a throw-together meal on a busy weeknight, taking less than thirty minutes from stove to table.

It combines silky orzo, chickpeas, slivered spinach, red onion and feta cheese with a dressing of lemon, olive oil and rice vinegar. The spinach was a bit of a pain to slice, chiffonade-style, but it was worth it in the end, the ribbons adding some visual appeal to the salad. I was also surprised how great the rice vinegar tasted as part of the dressing – I’ve never used it like this before in such a prominent way, and the flavour was refreshing but not overwhelming. Mack definitely approved – his serving was gone by the time I turned around to look. We’ll definitely be making this again!

Orzo Salad

Orzo salad with chickpeas, spinach, lemon and feta

Lentil and Farro Salad

We turned again to Spilling the Beans later in the week when I was hunting for a recipe to use up the rest of the feta I had in the fridge. The lentil and wild rice salad was appealing in a different way, featuring a laundry list of fresh vegetables, plus an opportunity to substitute my new favourite grain into the mix.

The salad tosses celery, bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, grated carrots, dill and parsley together with du puy lentils and farro (in my case). Everything is dressed with lemon, olive oil and a dash of sugar, leaving the vegetables to sing for themselves.

This took a little longer to put together, as I didn’t have any cooked lentils or farro to turn to, but I was able to prep the produce while they simmered away on the stove. The final product was enjoyable – even Mack, ever the salad-hater, gave a thumbs up! My only improvement would have been to double the grain content – but then again, I love the chewy nuttiness that farro brings to any dish.

Lentil & Farrow Salad

Lentil and farro salad

Given our success with these salads, I think more grab and go salads will be in our future!