“Wine Country” Spinach Salad with Wild Rice Grape Pilaf and Halloumi

Here’s a lunch recipe for you if, like me, you are are a delightful weirdo who enjoys Food in Bowls. I’m the only person in my family who likes food this way: eaten from a big vessel, all piled together, like a salad but more interesting than a salad, and with the freshest ingredients you can find. Meals like this often take more time to put together than your usual PB&J, but I’ve found that doubling the recipe works well if you store the base ingredients (in this case, the dressed rice pilaf) in a separate container than the toppings (here, the spinach salad as well as the cheese) in the fridge.

I suggest doubling because a lunch like this make you never want to slap some peanut butter on a slice of tired bread ever again. Just trust me.

I bought food blogger Allison Day’s cookbook Whole Bowls after I saw it pop up in my Instagram feed, and it quickly became my favorite cookbook purchase last year by far: all of the recipes are vegetarian, and each bowl–as the name of her book suggests–is a complete, balanced meal. Day not only packs each recipe with healthy carbs and tons of fresh nutrition and protein, but she makes sure each has a sweet element (here, the grapes) to balance the savory. If Allison Day could’ve gotten into my foodie fantasy dreams, she’d have written Whole Bowls just for me (she didn’t. But let me have my dream, okay?).

This salad from the cookbook has become my favorite lunch, though full disclosure: when I’ve made it, I’ve doubled it, because it takes a small investment of time to prepare. It’s a lunch that warrants a try, though, and you’ll be happy you did–it tastes like the time it takes, like the fresh ingredients you use, and will make you happy that you listened to me and that Allison Day made a cookbook straight out of my dreams (which she did, right?).

“Wine Country” Spinach Salad with Wild Rice Grape Pilaf and Halloumi

(from Allison Day’s Whole Bowls); serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 3 cups seedless grapes, halved
  • 1 cup packed, chopped parsley (yes, a whole cup)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 8-oz. package halloumi (a Greek cheese), cut into 1/2-inch slices

Notes: this salad can be served both warm or chilled, and keeps well for up to three days in the fridge.

Directions

Bring water and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan, then cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes until rice is soft and swollen. Drain any extra water. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the cooked rice along with the grapes, spinach, parsley, and scallions, and toss together.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the halloumi a few at a time and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side.

Serve the salad with a few pieces of halloumi on top. Enjoy, feel super healthy, and continue to think that Food in Bowls is the best invention ever.

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