By Freya Bellin
There’s no joking here with the superlative in the title of this recipe. It is truly the easiest salad ever. And what’s even better is that it’s also the most versatile. There are endless ways to vary a basic vinaigrette (see suggestions below), so you’ll never get tired of experimenting with flavors. My favorite addition is about a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard to the recipe below.
These salads do well mixed with other ingredients, too, like extra veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, etc.). I really like combining both beans and grains into one salad and serving that over mixed greens—it makes for an easy lunch to pack. I find that I need a little more dressing for the grains than the beans, since they absorb the liquid. It’s worth just making extra dressing if you think you’ll use it within a few days. Homemade is so much better than the bottled stuff. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Easiest Bean or Grain Salad on the Planet
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 10 minutes with cooked or canned beans or grains
You could make bean or grain salad every day for the rest of your life without making it the same way twice. A simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley is a great place to start, but the possibilities are endless (see the variations below).
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
1⁄4 cup olive oil, or to taste
1⁄4 cup chopped red onion or shallot
Salt and black pepper
4 cups cooked or canned beans, drained, or cooked grains, or a combination
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1. Put the lemon juice, oil, onion, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. If you’ve just cooked the beans or grains, add them to the dressing while they are still hot. Toss gently until the beans or grains are coated, adding more oil or lemon juice if you like.
2. Let cool to room temperature (or refrigerate), stirring every now and then to redistribute the dressing. Stir in the parsley just before serving, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Now that you know the standard recipe, here are some ideas to break the rules. For starters, try varying the vinegar and oil. For example, go with rice vinegar or lime juice and a neutral vegetable oil for use with Asian flavors and dishes (a few drops of sesame oil and/or soy sauce mixed in is lovely). Balsamic is nice with olive oil, as is good-quality red or white wine vinegar. Citrus juice also makes a terrific vinaigrette; you’ll just need to add a little more.
Then play around with the extra ingredients. Instead of the shallot, try garlic, ginger, lemongrass, wasabi, fresh horseradish, or the white part of scallions. Peeled soft stone fruit—like peaches or plums—make slightly sweet and colorful additions, as do roasted bell peppers. Nuts add body and, well, nuttiness. And finally, consider the spices: Curry or chili powder, cumin or coriander, and even cinnamon or nutmeg (in small doses) are especially good with cooked vegetable or other hearty salads.