Pesto Power Salad

Pesto Power Salad

Sometimes you crave Mac & Cheese. The good, homemade kind made with bechamel and extra sharp cheddar and topped with buttery breadcrumbs. That’s what I had this weekend. It was delicious and comforting and heavy. (See Epicurious for the recipe.) Other times, you actually want something a little healthier. Something that doesn’t make you want to curl up on the couch in a food coma for 2 hours. Especially if it’s a weekday lunch and you’ve got at least 5 more hours of work to do.

For me, a grain salad is the best kind of lunch. You can make a big batch at the beginning of the week, it doesn’t wilt and it just tastes better the longer it marinades. I like to call this kind of salad Power Salad. It all starts with your favorite grain – anything from quinoa to farro. The key to good grains is toasting them in a dry skillet until they’re just starting to turn golden and become fragrant. Toasting gives them a deeper, nuttier flavor.

Once you’ve cooked your grains, toss them with beans, sturdy vegetables and an herby vinaigrette. This time I used edamame beans and a lemony pesto made with almonds. Mix everything together, refrigerate and you’ve got lunch for the week. Lunch that will make you feel great and not put you in a food coma. I like to save good food comas for the weekend when you can really enjoy them.

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21 Comments

  1. Great idea, Mel. I love making salads like this with wheat berries, farro, quinoa…you name it. Love the addition of the edamames and the pesto sounds bright and perfect. – S

  2. Your are so right. Grain salads DO make the absolute best lunch. I make something similar to this almost every week!

  3. I am absolutely, 100% making this. The perfect summer lunch

  4. Do you toast the grains first and then cook as normally instructed?

  5. KB – thanks for pointing that out! You toast them in a dry skillet, then add water to cook. I’ll update the recipe :)

  6. Hi! What a GREAT blog. I found you while searching for “roasting baby artichokes”. I love this recipe idea and am going to try it tomorrow! ~jess

  7. I crave something like this ALL the time. Like today for instance…I have a bag of farro in the pantry that I still have not used, never cooked at home. I love the edamame in this for protein too! Great recipe!

  8. I made this tonight and it is delicious! I’m looking forward to eating it throughout the week. Thank you!

  9. I made one of these tonight, with quinoa and chickpeas… and cheated a little bit by adding some blue cheese.

    a girl can’t be good all the time!

  10. This is the kind of salad that I could eat everyday for lunch. Pesto is a favorite of ours and I appreciate how much of a nutritional punch this packs. I would love if you’d consider entering this recipe into the online Get Grillin’ & summer bbq event I’m hosting (it’s side dish week).

  11. This looks amazing. And here I was just wondering what I was going to do with all the quinoa I just bought…can’t wait to try it!

  12. All the best with the birth of your baby.

  13. A fun photo I made from your blog. Thanks for always keeping me full!

    http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/3818615/Bitchin_Camero

  14. I love pesto and don’t make it near often enough. This looks wonderful!

  15. Could bulger be used as the grain for this salad?? I am new to cooking with things like bulger, quinoa, or farro…

  16. I cannot wait to make this! It looks incredible. I’ve also made your corn/basil/bacon spaghetti (added brussels sprouts) and it was so good!

  17. edward r nichols says:

    my husband needs this.

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  21. Made this today- I knew it would be delicious, so I made a double batch. It was so tasty- my whole family loved it. Thanks for another fabulous recipe!!

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