Jun 20, 2011

Quinoa, barley and wild rice salad

another light lunch for Red Chilies

My five year old loves going to the museum and can spend hours roaming the corridors. Before you get any ideas about his artistic abilities, let me explain. It is a children’s museum which allows him and kids like him to play and experiment with things one doesn’t normally get to do at home. There are basins of water with toy boats to study water flow and mechanics of water dams. There are rooms filled with crayons and scissors and balloons and wooden blocks to build lofty buildings and break them down.
Water fun at the museum

For once, the parents trail behind the kids while they lead the way from one room to another. I have to admit sometimes we too get sucked into the excitement of building a castle with disposable plastic glasses. What kid would not like to spend hours in a museum built just for him and his friends?  We make a trip down to the museum at least once a month if not more.
Quinoa, wild rice salad with curly fries

For all the good things our city’s children’s museum offers, it lacks sorely on the good eats front. The cafĂ© offers greasy cheese pizzas and sad looking macaroni and cheese for the kids, both of which my kid refuses to eat (not that I am complaining). For the adults, especially if one is vegetarian, there is very limited offering and what there is of is loaded with grease and salt. They do make excellent curly fries and the kid will eat them happily with ketchup. To supplement the fries, I carry a healthy snack for him and he eats that with the fries. For the adults, I make a quinoa salad with lots of fruits, veggies and nuts. I vary the salad ingredients, sometimes adding wild rice to it, sometimes barely and other times, all three of them.

With strawberries

It is nutritious, loaded with flavor and very healthy and filling. Paired with some fruit and a few sneaked in curly fries, it is a complete meal. You can make this a day or two ahead to save on time and to let the flavors blend nicely. In fact, it does taste better the day after it is made. It keeps well in the refrigerator for at least a week and best of all, you can eat it cold.

I usually cook 1/2 cup quinoa and 1/4 cup each of wild rice and barley. The following proportions are for a total of 1 cup of dry grains. Use a combination of two or all three, depending on your preference.

Quinoa, wild rice and barley salad
1/2 cup quinoa (red or white)
1/4 cup wild rice
1/4 cup barley
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup grated carrots
1 red bell pepper, diced fine
1 orange, supremed or cut in sections with seeds and membranes removed (see video below)
1/2 cup apple, diced small
1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 -3 tbsps dried cranberries
1 tbsp finely chopped chives (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine

1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tbsp orange juice (I just use the juice rendered during sectioning the orange)
Juice of half a lime
Fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Sriracha or Tabasco sauce (optional)


To cook quinoa:
Combine 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup water or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vegetable stock in a saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook till a little white thread curl appears in the grain.

To cook wild rice:
Cook 1/4 cup wild rice with 1 cup water or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vegetable stock. Add a pinch of salt to the boiling liquid and turn off the heat when the liquid had evaporated and the rice is cooked through.

To cook Barley:
Unlike wild rice and quinoa, which use 1:2 grain to liquid ratio, barley needs a 1:3 grain to liquid ratio. For 1/4 cup barley, use 3/4 cups of liquid, water or a combination of water and vegetable stock. Cook the same way as above.

While the grains are cooking, finely dice the red bell peppers, grate the carrots, chop the cilantro and defrost and cook the corn. I just zap the frozen corn kernels in the microwave for 30 sec intervals till they are tender.

In a big bowl, combine the cooked rice, quinoa and barley. Mix the bell peppers, carrots, cilantro, cranberries, corn and cilantro. Drizzle a tsp of dark sesame oil and supreme the orange (see video below) right over the bowl. Squeeze the juice out from the leftover membrane and add salt and crushed black pepper.

Gently mix everything together and check for taste. Add more sesame oil, salt or pepper if needed. Be careful with the sesame oil since it has a very distinct flavor and can overwhelm if added too much.

Transfer to a covered bowl and chill the salad in the refrigerator overnight or at least for a couple of hours to let the flavors mingle. Eat with a side of fruit for a refreshing, light, summer lunch.

Note: Depending on what I have in the fridge and pantry, I have in the past also added grilled broccoli, cucumbers, grapes, grapefruit, candied pineapple, raisins, walnuts and slivered almonds.
This light lunch, good for picnics, outings or office, goes off to Red Chilies Light Lunches event. Click on the link for details and more light lunch recipes and a fabulous cookbook giveaway. It is a coinicidence that my family and Supriya's family met for the first time at this very same museum, almost a year ago.  Needless to say, we all got along famously, which is why we are still friends.

On another note, if you are a regular here, here is another reminder to join my facebook page and be part of some fun food conversation. Here's the link to Desisoccermom, go like it.

This quinoa, barley, wild rice salad goes to Simona of briciole, who is hosting Siri's Healing Foods - Whole Grains.
How to supeme or segment the orange:


  1. wow, that salad looks very healthy, nutritious and filling.

  2. I love quinoa in my salads. This makes a hearty to-go meal!

  3. The time has arrived for me to get Quinoa, me thinks. Lovely salad. BTW I love a barley salad that I get at Tuscany's, the place I wrote about in my blog.

  4. Thanks for this light lunch post, Jaya. Needless to say thanks for the mention about us. I have not tried Quinoa yet, but then I think I must have tried it at the Central market (not very sure). M does not like it at all and hence i have not experimented with it. The next time we meet, I would love to have this healthy and nutritious salad :-)

  5. Priya, thank you. It does taste as good as it looks, if I may say so myself.

    Divya and Srav, thanks. I love quinoa too.

    BongMom, quinoa is one of those ingredients you have to get used to but one you do, you will find lots of ways to use it. )

  6. Supriya, I am enjoying doing this series. It is keeping me on my blogging toes. Next time we meet, I will have some of this for you for sure. My inspiration for the salad was CM. They don't mix wild rice and barley in it though. They have seperate salads for that.

  7. What a great museum this one is! The best part about it must be the fact that the children can do what they want to do (read - create any amount of mess)and the parents don't have to worry about clearing up after them!

    That is a super colourful salad. I have realised that for me, the more colourful a salad looks, the more appeal it has.

    June 25, 2011 10:07 AM

  8. As lively a salad mix as this is, the dressing is really teasing my taste buds right now. This is an excellent dish for making up early in day before the summer heat kills your plans to go near the stove.

  9. Hi Jaya, a very colorful post..loved the recipes...which museum is this? would love to take my kid there...i am in the DFW area as well

  10. Chaya, thank you. It is always good to know a fellow blogger who lives in the same city. This is the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Send me your email and I can give you the details. :-)

  11. Hi Jaya,
    What a lovely, colorful and spunky salad! Sure looks tempting!
    You have a very interesting blog here and your photography is pretty awesome too! Keep up the good work :-)

    It is great that your son doesn't hunger after all that junk food. But sometimes, satisfying children can be quite a challenge! That's why we at Women's Web are hosting the “Cooking Is Child’s Play” contest this month. We are inviting all the talented cooks in the food blogging community out here to share with us kid-friendly recipes that can be prepared with the help of children. I’m sure you must have many interesting ideas! There are several exciting prizes to be won so check out our website for further details and do send in your entry! Contest closes Aug 1st. We hope to hear from you soon. Please share your experience & expertise with us! All the best Jaya!

    Contest Link: http://www.womensweb.in/item/food-blog-contest-kids-recipes.html

  12. A very nice salad in all the details. Healthy whole grains pair well with vegetables and fruit. Thank you for your contribution to Healing Foods.


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