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Lighten Up Already – Greens, Grains, and Pecan Salad

Recently, I have developed this obsession for the Food 52 project’s website. Not only is the content great but their new design overhaul has made the site into an elegant source of culinary eye candy. I have found countless great ideas for this year’s thanksgiving dinner on the site and I admit that I may have a bit of blog envy. One of the site’s recent galleries featured a selection of healthy dishes that can be mixed into the traditional collection of classics and I found this a bit inspiring.

For most people, myself included, the holiday season is a time for family, but when it comes to holiday cuisine, for many this means a month and a half of over-indulgence. So this year I am trying to make a break from the norm by mixing in a good handful of healthy recipes to counterbalance some of the traditional, heavy handed staples.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating you completely ditch your family’s favorites for hippy dippy health food. But it certainly cant hurt to cut down on butter here and there and add some delicious salads and whole grains into the traditional mix. One of the inspirational recipes I came across on Food 52 called for mixing together a healthy selection of whole grains, like farro, and black rice, with hearty winter greens, heaps of herbs, pecans, and dried cranberries – it was just what I was looking for a beautiful healthy dish that would delight and nourish my family this thanksgiving.

The nuts and cranberries allude to classic holiday flavors while the grains and greens bring new players to the party. One of my favorite parts of the recipe would have to be the herbs, which make the dish scream with bright and zesty flavors and the radishes, whose bright bitter crunch will brighten up any butter laden holiday plate. So this year, try something different, add new flavors to the mix, and show your family you love them by encouraging them to take care of their health throughout the traditionally gluttonous holiday season.

Greens, Grains, and Pecan Salad – Adapted from Food 52’s Radish and Pecan Grain Salad

2 C. Mixed Grains – I Used a Mix of Black Rice, Farro, and Wheat Berries
3 C. Hearty Greens, I Selected Some Baby Kale Greens But Treviso, Arugula, or Endive Would Work Well
1 C. Minced Parsley
1/2 Cup Minced Tarragon
1/2 C. Minced Fresh Mint
1 C. Pecans
1/4 C. Walnut Oil
1/4 C. Sherry Vinegar
1 C. Watermelon Radishes Sliced Thinly
1/4 C. Shallot, Halved and Sliced Thinly
1/4 C. Olive Oil
1/2 C. Dried Cranberries

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the grains and cook until just tender, about 25 minutes.

Drain the grains into a colander, then set aside until almost cool.

Combine vinegar and oils in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Place all of the other ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Pour dressing over the salad and toss again. Taste the salad and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.

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