Earlier this summer we took a trip to the Everglades National Park (I would not recommend doing this in the middle of June!) and this Whole Grain Salad with Avocado Dressing was one of the dishes I brought along on our picnic.
It was such an easy make-ahead dish, it held up great in the sweltering heat and had such a delicious flavor. Unlike most otherwise healthy whole grain-based salad recipes, I used a much heftier ratio of vegetables to grain. If you have our Clean Cuisine book, then you know the more vegetables the better!
If you are wondering why the grain salad doesn’t look green from the Avocado Dressing the answer is because I used unrefined, cold-pressed avocado oil instead of whole avocados.
There’s nothing in the world wrong with using whole avocados for a salad dressing (in fact, this is one of my absolute favorite avocado-based salad dressing recipes that uses the whole avocado), but if you plan to have your salad dressing out in the heat for any length of time then you definitely want to use avocado oil rather than whole avocados. An avocado-based salad dressing will be vibrant green in color —but not for long! Whole avocados will quickly turn an unappetizing brownish tinge when toted along on a picnic. So, for picnics, hot summer days and BBQ’s, it’s definitely best to go with avocado oil instead of whole-avocados for your salad dressing. So for the whole grain salad recipe, it’s avocado oil only!
If you have not used avocado oil in the past you are definitely in for a treat. Along with unrefined, organic red palm oil, avocado oil has become a staple ingredient in our pantry for so many of my clean eating recipes. And it has been such a delicious and versatile addition too. A superior quality ‘Hass’ avocado oil will have an incredibly tasty combination of grassy/ buttery / umami-mushroom flavors.
As far as how to choose a superior quality avocado oil, the main two things you want to look for are:
- The avocado oil should be labeled unrefined
- The avocado oil should be labeled “extra virgin”
Another reason I’m so crazy about avocado oil is that it has a high smoke point (higher than that of extra virgin olive oil). For the Whole Grain Salad recipe, I not only used the avocado oil for the no-heat dressing, I also used it to roast the vegetables. By using an oil with a high-smoke point you greatly eliminate the chance that the fat will start to break down and release damaging free radicals. If you are following an anti-inflammatory diet, then it is super important to pay attention to the smoke point of the oils you use.
And finally, a superior quality, unrefined and extra virgin avocado oil is loaded with nutrients, including chlorophyll and antioxidant carotenoids.
A Picnic with Whole Grain Salad + More
In addition to the Whole Grain Salad with Avocado Dressing, I also brought along Strawberry Lemonade, Roasted Vegetable Sandwiches and Clean Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. It was a rather simple menu for our picnic but also very easy to make-ahead, pack and tote along. And it held up well in the 95 degree Everglades National Park weather too.
I think if I had one tip for picnicking in the Everglades it would probably be to not go in the dead heat of summer 😉
As for which whole grain to use for the Grain Salad Recipe, I used millet (which is really more like a seed), but you can also use quinoa or barley. If you want to make your whole grain salad easier to digest, try using a sprouted whole grain.
And of course, I had to show a few photos from the Everglades National Park too…
Ok, on with the recipe! Here’s how to make it….Print
- 4 carrots (finely chopped)
- 1 whole fennel bulb (finely chopped, fronds reserved)
- 1/2 onion (finely chopped)
- 1/3 cup unrefined plus 2 teaspoons (cold-pressed avocado oil)
- 2 cups cooked millet (quinoa or barley)
- 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon raw honey
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lina a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Arrange the carrots, fennel and onions on the parchment paper, drizzle with 2 teaspoons avocado oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast vegetables for 15 minutes, or until soft but not mushy. Transfer vegetables to a large serving bowl, add the cooked millet and toss everything together gently. Set mixture aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the garlic, avocado oil, lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, anchovy paste (optional) and honey; use a fork to whisk everything together.
- Drizzle avocado dressing on top of millet and vegetables. Gently toss all of the ingredients together. Chop the reserved fennel fronds and add them to the bowl. Stir in the walnuts, Adjust seasoning and serve at room temperature.
- Chop fronds
Looking for More Healthy Living Recipes?
If you liked the Whole Grain Salad, be sure to check out a full month’s menu of delicious healthy dinner recipes (including weekly shopping lists!) in our Clean Cuisine Dinners digital cookbook.