Ancient grains salad

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Tuesday, 24 September 2013.
Tagged: ancient grains, brownrice, healthy recipes, high fibre, lentils, low salt, quinoa, salad, sidedish, vegetarian

  • Ready In: 1 hour
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cooking Time: 30 mins
  • Serves: 4.5 cups (4 main meal serves or 8 side serves)
Ancient grains salad

Cook up a quantity of this salad and you’ll find endless uses for it. With its sweetish undertone, I like to serve it with grilled lamb cutlets but it works nicely as a side dish for roast lamb or chicken. It’s a good recipe if you’re cooking for vegetarians as it’s a complete vegetarian meal on its own with its mix of grains and legumes.

I’ve cooked and modified the recipe four times. It came from two sources of inspiration – a recipe from the beautiful Ancient Grains cookbook that I worked on plus a sensational salad I sampled at Mamababa restaurant in Melbourne (now closed) which said on the menu it was George’s Mama’s favourite salad.


  • 1 cup cooked long-grain brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked small grey lentils
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 green spring onions, finely-sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
  • ½ teaspoon tamari, salt-reduced
  • Ground black pepper


  1. Cook the rice, quinoa and lentils separately (they all have different cooking times).
  2. Toast the almonds and pine nuts in a non-stick pan for 3-4 minutes over low heat until gold taking care that they don't burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Make up dressing and place currants, parsley and onion in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Combine all ingredients in a screwtop jar. Close and shake well to combine. Drizzle over salad and toss with a large spoon to combine with the grains. You won't see a lot of spare dressing – the grans will soak it up. Can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. To serve, arrange the mixed grain base on a large serving platter. Scatter almonds and pine nuts on top, add extra parsley if desired to garnish.

Cook's note:

  • If the currants are dried out, soak them for 15-20 minutes in a bowl covered with the juice of half an orange (about 2 tablespoons).
  • If you have time, cook the grains the day before. Drain well, spread onto an open large tray and leave overnight uncovered in the fridge. This "dries' out the grains a little, leaving them separate and light in the salad.

Quantities to start with to cook from raw:

½ cup brown rice

½ cup quinoa

1/3 cup small grey lentils

You can use all rice or all quinoa as long as you end up with a total of 2 cups cooked grains. I like the mixture of the two – it makes for an interesting texture.


Instead of lamb, serve this salad under 2 or 3 slabs of haloumi

No quinoa?
Simply use all rice ie one cup of raw brown rice.

No pine nuts? No almonds?
No worries. Use swap for any chopped nuts such as walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts or Brazils. All add their own special flavour.

As a side dish
Toss a couple of spoonfuls of the finished grain salad through a bowl of mixed crisp leaves. Drizzle over a little lemon-oil salad dressing just before you serve up.

 Ancient grains green-salad 2