In the summer, I love to incorporate as many fresh vegetables as possible into every meal. Yes, we have access to most produce on a daily basis. But I swear fruits and veggies taste so much better when they’re in season. Today’s recipe is for a vegetable and grain salad. This salad is loaded with vegetables and whole grains. It’s a perfect side dish or even a meal that is quick and easy to put together.
But Before We Even Start, I Want to Challenge You
You didn’t think this would just be a simple recipe post did you? Check out the ingredient list below. And see what you already have in your home. If you have all the ingredients on the list, then great, you’re exempted from this little challenge. But for those of you needing to stop and pick some items up, I want you to try something. Skip going to your normal grocery store if you’re able to. Instead, I’d like you to acquire these ingredients from your local farmers market.
The Benefits of Farmers Markets
There are a number of benefits from shopping at farmers markets. As I mentioned above, the produce at farmers markets reflects the best, current, seasonal produce. These fruits and vegetables haven’t been sitting on store shelves or stored in refrigerated trucks. Nor have they been gassed or stimulated to ripen in any way. In most cases, the produce was picked that very morning, meaning it’s the most fresh it could possibly be! Talk about fast food, am I right? Shopping at farmers markets also allow you to support local family farms. Small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce. And subsequently gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy.
Not To Mention It Protects the Environment
At PFP we continually talk about creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. We hope to help you make the choices that give your body everything it needs to reach your goals. Simultaneously, some of these choices not only affect your health, but the health of the planet. Family farms conserve fossil fuels, as they don’t have to drive their produce hundreds of miles on a truck. Small family farms produce less environmental waste in the form of carbon monoxide, pesticide use, and chemical fertilizers. They are also less likely to utilize giant processing and sorting machines that contribute to environmental decay. Plus, there is no extra packaging, meaning less waste!
It’s Also Really Affordable and Exposes You to Such a Variety
I know, I know. Fresh, organic, and non-GMO foods get a bad rap for being expensive. For a lot of people, their finances have a direct influence on their diet choices. Which is why farmers markets are such an incredible grocery option. It’s a tremendous value. Nutritionally speaking, the produce give you more bang for your buck. But also, grocery stores tend to charge an arm and a leg for organic fruits and vegetables. At the farmer’s market, they are typically not much more expensive than conventionally grown produce. Plus the benefits to your health are likely to save you money on healthcare expenses over the long-term.
At the farmers market you find an amazing array of produce that you don’t see in your average supermarket. There are red carrots, rainbows of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, stinging nettles, green garlic, watermelon radishes, maitake mushrooms, and so much more. Heck, just think of all the different kind of vegetable and grain salad varieties you could create! It is a wonderful opportunity to savor the biodiversity of our planet. And farmers markets aren’t just about produce. You’ll find all sorts of vendors from bread bakers and soap makers to jewelry designers and sauce creators.
So what are you waiting for? There are a number of farmers markets in the Pittsburgh area. Click here to check out the Lawrenceville Farmers Market! Now let’s get to creating that delicious vegetable and grain salad!
2 cups cooked farro
⅓ cup pine nuts
3 medium cucumbers – peeled, cut into ¾” pieces
3 medium tomatoes – thinly sliced
1 pint Sun Gold and/or cherry tomatoes – halved crosswise
1 small red onion – very thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon (or more if desired)
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups torn basil leaves
Vegetable and Grain Salad Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°. Cook farro in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat, stirring often. Farro should become golden brown and toasted. It should start to smell like popcorn and some grains may even pop! This will take about 4 minutes.
Remove pot from heat and pour in cold water to cover grains by 1″. Throw in a healthy handful of salt. Set pot over medium-high heat and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Skim foam occasionally from surface. Grains should be tender, but still have some bite. This will take roughly 25–35 minutes. Drain and transfer farro to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once. Let them become golden brown in color – about 5 minutes. Let cool. Add pine nuts, cucumbers, both kinds of tomatoes, red onion, lemon juice, oil, and vinegar to bowl with farro. Toss everything together to combine. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Top your vegetable and grain salad with basil just before serving.
Need Some Guidance?
Eating fresh produce doesn’t just affect your appearance but also helps you in your training and reaching your goals. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a nutrition assessment to help reach your individualized nutrition and/or fitness goals make an appointment with me today!