I’ve been a very bad girl.   There I said it, and now I have penance to pay.  I spent three days at Pritikin Center for their 35th Anniversary, returned home and indulged in restaurant food.  It was innocent at first, I hadn’t been to the grocery store and had a little cold, so ordering in the first night home made sense.  The next thing I knew I had been home six nights and all we had eaten was high calorie restaurant food for lunch and dinner.

I had a lot of motivation to get back on the right track.  This year California Walnuts invited me to participate in the California Walnuts #VirtualSaladParty that starts today and lasts through June 15th.  Sous Chef and I have been trying to make healthier eating choices.  A few of my favorite chefs, Joanne Weir, Mollie Katzen and Aida Mollenkamp,  created some great salads using Walnuts as a featured ingredient to help remind us all that good food does not need to be laden in butter and cream.

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I’ve been a big fan of Joanne Weir and her approach to cooking for a long time, so I selected a recipe from her.   Little did I know at the time that salad recipe sent to me is perfect for my Palm Springs Lifestyle.  The salad featured two grains, Quinoa and Millet. Two of my locally sourced ingredients Dates and Grapefruit were used to bring a fresh element to the salad.  This salad is spectacular.  The grains provide a nutty flavor that enhances the toasted walnuts and provides a hearty and satisfying texture.  Chopped dates added a little sweetness to offset the fresh, acidic, slightly bitter taste of the grapefruit.  Fresh parsley rounded out the flavors.  I thought Sous Chef might balk at the salad a bit, so I “manned” it up for him with diced celery and Apple Smoked Bacon.  The crunch of the celery works well with the toasted walnuts, and the smoked bacon adds an extra dimension of flavor that compliments the dates and walnuts. The dressing is light and refreshing, providing the perfect balance of flavors.

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The leftovers made a fabulous lunch the next day, and if you brown bag it, your co-workers will be jealous of this gorgeous salad.  Don’t be surprised if you find your lunch missing.

Walnuts are perfect year round, not just for baking, but for salads, dressings, sauces, and even cooking meats for a crispy crust.  They are a super healthy food and are a source of rich nutrients.   So, the next time you need to get back on the healthy eating track, think Walnuts and remember this great salad!

Grain Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Date & Grapefruit
 
This is my adaptation of Joanne Weir’s salad. It is great with or without the additions I made.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American

Ingredients
  • Dressing:
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated grapefruit zest
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salad:
  • ¾ cup millet or bulgar
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup walnut halves and pieces
  • 4 slices cooked apple smoked bacon
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 grapefruits, washed
  • ½ cup pitted dates, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. For the dressing, place the grapefruit zest in a small bowl. Add the vinegar and olive oil. Set aside.
  3. For the bacon, dice and cook in a pan. Place on a paper towel and set aside.
  4. Place the millet and quinoa in a saucepan over medium high heat, shaking the pan constantly, to toast the grains, 4 minutes. Immediately add 2 ¼ cups water and ¾ teaspoon salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until all of the moisture is absorbed and the grains are cooked, 15 to 18 minutes. Check the bottom of the pan periodically to see that the grains don’t burn. Remove the grains from the pan and place on a baking sheet. Spread the grains on the baking sheet and let cool.
  5. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until they are fragrant and light golden, 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Break the walnuts halves in half.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut the tops and bottoms off the grapefruit to reveal the colored flesh. Place one of the cut sides down on a work surface. Using a small sharp knife, cut off the peel and white pith from top to bottom. Turn the fruit to the opposite cut side, and remove any white pith. Cut the grapefruit into sections, cutting between the membranes. Place the sections in a large salad bowl and set aside. With the center of the remaining grapefruit, squeeze 2 tablespoons of the juice adding it to the bowl with the dressing. Season the dressing with salt.
  7. In the large bowl containing the grapefruit sections, add the dates, walnuts, quinoa, millet and parsley, cilantro, celery and bacon. Add the dressing and toss together.