Autumn salads feature grains and in-season veggies, fruits

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Fall fruits blend into a beautiful and delectable salad/dessert.

The rain and often-blustery days signal the onset of autumn and the produce section of supermarkets along with Farmers’ Market offerings put paid to the weather.

Cher-ries give way to grapes and apricots bow out to peaches and nectarines.

Artichokes, squash and cabbage take over from the asparagus and peas. Even the tomatoes have finally ripened in our North Idaho short-summer season. In short, it’s time to change our menus!

Today’s column will explore a few options that welcome wholesome grains, the selections of which are amazing: Rice, quinoa, orzo, couscous, bulgur, barley and many more for new taste and texture sensations. Whatever grain is called for in a recipe, you can substitute your own favorite – remembering to cook the proper amount of time for individual density. Have fun, experiment, and Enjoy!

Quinoa, Mint and

Parsley Salad

1 ½ cups dry quinoa

3 cups water

1 red onion

1 ¼ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon EACH ground allspice and cinnamon

5 cups packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 ½ cups packed fresh mint leaves

1 bunch green onions w/tops

½ small cucumber

1 cup chopped tomatoes (peeled if necessary) or cherry tomatoes

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

Combine quinoa and water in large pot and bring to full boil. Immediately turn heat to low, cover pan and cook for 15 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes, uncovered, then fluff with fork. Chill while preparing other ingredients.

Mince enough onion to measure 1 cup and in a bowl, stir together with salt, allspice and cinnamon. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.

Finely chop parsley and mint. Finely chop enough green onion w/tops to measure 2/3 cup. Peel, quarter and seed cucumber, and thinly slice.

If using cherry tomatoes, cut in half (with serrated knife for clean cut). In a salad bowl, toss all salad ingredients with salt and pepper to taste.

Chill covered for an hour, before serving. Serves 8.

This salad offers the opportunity for a full meal when topped with grilled salmon strips, ahi fillets or chicken breast. Topping instructions follow the salad recipe.

Fall Veggie Salad

1 heaping cup dry orzo pasta (rice look-alike)

6-8 cut-up florets of broccoli

1 cup frozen small sweet peas

1 cup whole yellow cherry tomatoes or cubed large yellow tomato

3-4 green onions, sliced w/tops

¼ cup slivered almonds

1/3 cup white wine or tarragon vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt, pepper to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water, shaking well and tossing to separate. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a seething boil: Using a timer, toss broccoli into the boiling water; allow to return to boil, time 3 minutes exactly, then toss in frozen peas; return to boil and immediately drain into colander and drench with cold water till completely cool. Drain well, patting with paper towels if necessary, then toss with the orzo. Add tomatoes and onions. Combine vinegar and oil, pour over salad and toss well. Salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with the almonds. If topping with chicken or fish, have the pieces grilled and ready for immediate serving; otherwise, chill salad if you wish. Serves 4.


Apricot-Honey Glaze

1/3 cup honey mustard

3 Tbs. apricot preserves

1 tsp. finely ground ginger

Blend all ingredients together, brush on chicken breast, salmon, halibut, etc., grilling or broiling 3-8 minutes per side (depending on choice), and brushing frequently when turning each piece.

Whether you serve our pictured glass of mixed melons, plums and peaches as main course salad or dessert, It offers beauty and refreshment galore. No recipe is needed for this offering since in-season fruits change from week to week in the fall. Orange slices are welcome as part of the edibles, and lime slices would make a lovely topper perched on the rim for squeezing over each bite. Other fruit possibilities are pineapple chunks, mangos, pomegranate seeds, banana or thin peeled apple slices (each dipped in lemon juice to deter darkening). Other possibilities include blackberries, blueberries, seedless grapes, kiwi and more; simply study the fruits available and select your favorite combinations. Dressing really isn’t necessary, but a splash of ginger ale or Proseco serves nicely. Garnish with mint leaves as shown, and offer cocktail or salad forks as utensils.

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at or by phone at 208-265-4688.

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