This entertaining-friendly grain salad includes a generous amount of fresh, crisp summer veggies (and even a bit of fruit) to keep it feeling light while still being satisfying. I like farro (look for semi-pearled; it only takes 35 minutes to cook) or short-grain brown rice in this salad, but wheat berries are delicious too. You can cook your grains a day ahead and hold them in the fridge. The “double” basil hit comes from basil in the dressing and small whole leaves in the salad.  

Serves 6

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds or pine nuts, plus 3 tablespoons for garnish
  • 2/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, plus 15 to 20 small leaves (or more)
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, more if desired
  • 2 teaspoons black olive tapenade
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 cups baby lettuces or other small leafy greens
  • 3 cups cooked (and cooled) farro, short-grain brown rice, or wheat berries
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup seeded (not peeled) cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 ripe but firm avocado, diced
  • 1/2 ripe but firm nectarine, diced

1. In a food processor (a small one is fine), combine the garlic clove, nuts, and the 2/3 cup basil. Process until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, tapenade, lemon zest, and a big pinch of salt. Process again until well-combined. Stir in the sundried tomatoes.

2. Arrange the greens around the edges of a large platter.

3. Put the grains in a mixing bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss gently. Add 3 tablespoons of the dressing and toss gently but thoroughly. Taste, and add more lemon juice or salt if necessary. Scatter the grains over the greens.

4. In a small bowl, combine the cherry tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, and 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Toss together. Gently fold in the avocados. Spoon the vegetables over the grains. If desired, spoon on a bit more of the dressing or a bit of lemon juice. Top with the whole small basil leaves (be generous) and the remaining nuts. Serve at room temperature.

This recipe was originally published with the article, Something about Basil.