Here’s a salad with substance, or perhaps we could call it a grain bowl? Grain bowls are everywhere these days, and with good reason. Is there a better way to enjoy a complete meal in a bowl? You have salad, protein, grains, and delicious garnishes and sauces mingling together for a true taste sensation.
My version includes the flavors reminiscent of a certain lunch-time sandwich. The tomatoes are roasted and the bacon is used as a garnish. The lettuce is there, along with spinach, scallions, and cucumber. I used my favorite grain, farro, to complete the bowl. I seasoned the farro with lots of salt, pepper, mint, basil, and parsley. A drizzle of garlic vinaigrette over the entire assembly serves as a sauce, of sorts. If you wanted to add more protein, the logical addition would be a perfectly cooked soft-boiled or sunny-side up egg. To join the grain bowl trend all you need is a little imagination and a few basic ingredients: grains (of course), which could consist of rice, barley, quinoa, millet; cooked vegetables, raw vegetables, protein (meat, poultry, fish, tofu, eggs or beans), garnishes,(such as herbs, nuts, seeds); and a sauce to compliment your flavor profile. What could be easier, or more fun? And you will be enjoying a delicious meal in no time, likely with ingredients you already have in your refrigerator and pantry. Try it and see if you don’t agree.
Greens and Grains with Roasted Tomatoes and Bacon
- 1/2 cup pearled farro or barley
- 1 heaping cup small cherry tomatoes
- 2 generous handfuls soft lettuce leaves , such as Bibb or Boston, torn into small pieces
- 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced seedless cucumber
- 1 large scallion , green and white parts, thinly sliced
- 4 slices applewood-smoked bacon , cooked until slightly crisp (or to your own taste), cut into large dice
- 2 to 3 tablespoons torn , soft herbs, such as basil, mint, and parsley
- Extra virgin olive oil
- White wine vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- *Garlic Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
- Soft-boiled or sunny-side up eggs (optional)
Place the farro or barley in a small, heavy saucepan, with 1 cup of water and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer until the grain is tender. Transfer the grain to a bowl and season while warm with additional salt, pepper, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and a sprinkle of vinegar. Set aside to cool. When cool, fold in the torn herbs. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment or foil. Place the tomatoes on the sheet and drizzle with a little oil. Bake until soft and slightly caramelized, about 6 to 8 minutes. Don't overcook them or they will collapse into a tomatoey mush! Set aside to cool.
When you are ready to serve, choose a shallow bowl and arrange the ingredients attractively. Place the grain at one side, mounding it slightly. Place the sliced cucumbers alongside, then mound the salad greens and scallions toward the bottom edge of the bowl. Across the middle of the bowl place the roasted tomatoes and the cooked bacon. Drizzle the entire bowl with vinaigrette, and strew additional herbs over top, if you like. If you're feeling really hungry, top the bowl with an egg. Enjoy!
*To make the Garlic Vinaigrette: In a small mixing bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, a small clove of garlic, very finely minced or grated, 6 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the balance of the dressing with more oil, if desired. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.