Cooking out of season seems like such an antiquated notion now that we’re bombarded everyday with local! seasonal! eating! When the market is full to the bream with fresh strawberries picked just yesterday, does it even make sense to fill my basket with the last of winter storage apples? As someone who bookmarks more recipes than I can cook, I get frustrated that often it takes a whole year before interesting recipes on screen turn into intriguing dishes on my dinner table. Obviously there are plenty of dishes that are seasonally-neutral. However, the turnaround time can be just as long (if not more) because there are always more urgent things to make before ingredients go out of season.
I bookmarked Amanda Hesser’s Radish Pecan Grain Salad at food52 five months ago in the dead of winter. The ground was blanketed with snow and it seemed summer would never arrive. The minute I laid eyes on that lively mix of assorted grains, paper-thin radishes, toasty pecans, fresh herbs, and sweet dried fruit in a sherry walnut vinaigrette, I wanted to rush to the kitchen. I could almost taste the pop of the grains in my mouth. Somehow, that 10 yard dash to the kitchen never happened as I got distracted by cute things, pretty things, kitschy things, traditional things, and of course ridiculously delicious things. Before I knew it, the grain salad was relegated to the very back of my mind with no clear estimate date of completion.
The ingredients for this salad are thankfully neutral to seasonal changes with most being pantry staples. In a recent round up of 4th Of July Festivities, the photo that captured my attention five months ago reappeared in front of me. The salad looked just as enticing as before and I decided it’s time for action. Of course, it also helped that every ingredient happened to be available in my house at 3am. This insomniac would have her grain salad at last.
I cooked an assortment of wild rice, wheatberries, and quinoas. Mandolin made quick work of slicing radishes. The mix of parsley, tarragon, and mint was refreshing with its liquorice undertone. The toasted pecans and dried morello cherries matched beautifully with the walnut oil sherry vinegar dressing bold with minced shallots. Tender baby lettuce leaves were pretty to look at and crunchy among grains. I would happily eat this salad spoon after spoon from a big bowl.
It must have been the first time I combined parsley, tarragon, and mint together in one dish. If any on of these fresh herbs is missing, the layers of flavours would be diminished. The peppery bite of radish offsets the otherwise sweet salad. This is exactly the kind of salad I love to serve at casual al fresco meals with the grill firing in the background. Oh wait, so that must be why it was included in the 4th of July feature! In any case, I’m thankful Radish Pecan Grain Salad came back into my life this summer.