Summer Sundays: Make-and-keep grain salads

Black rice also known as purple rice. The dark color is due to an excess of anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that’s the culprit for most darkly colored plants.

Black rice also known as purple rice. The dark color is due to an excess of anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that’s the culprit for most darkly colored plants.

Though we won’t reach the solstice for another couple of weeks, summer is all but here, with evening hours stretching to their limits. Enjoy them more, and keep your kitchen cool, with make-ahead salads that can transform your refrigerator into an in-home deli case.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll share promising summer recipes you can prep on a Sunday evening and eat for much of the week. We begin today with cooked grains because they’re some of the best keepers and suited to summer add-ins, despite their wintry associations. Hearty, lesser-known grains are a ready foundation for light, filling summer meals.

Bulgur: High Summer in a Bowl

In this salad, bulgur, a dry cracked wheat that cooks to a chewy bite, is combined with summer’s most prolific ingredients, including eggplant, scallions, parsley, cucumber, and tomato. It’s two salads, one served atop the other. Store them separately and arrange in shallow bowls just before serving.

Millet: Bright and Sweet

Millet is a fluffy, gluten-free foundation for this salad, which is packed with tomatoes, corn, basil, and just-cooked green beans. Sweetness from the baked corn and white balsamic is balanced with a shot of lemon juice.  

Black Rice: Bold and Abundant

Asian-inspired flavors paired with a striking palette of colors make this black rice salad different from anything else in your refrigerator. Fresh pieces of mango are the most visually striking against the dark rice, but this salad also calls for produce that will soon be abundant at farmers’ markets and home gardens: snap peas, mint, basil, tomatoes, and spring onions.

If you prefer that your cooking mirror the spontaneity and fun of the season, create a grain salad out of whatever you have in the house using Mark Bittman’s comprehensive grain salad guide. It’s a creative, resourceful way to tangle summer flavors together and please everyone’s palate.