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Ina Garten's Important Tip For Perfectly Dressing Any Grain Salad

Celebrity Chef Ina Garten
Celebrity Chef Ina Garten - Brad Barket/Getty Images

If you're looking for a fresh and filling side dish, you can't go wrong with a tasty grain salad. Whether you use brown rice, barley, quinoa, farro, or another grain for your base, grain salads offer a world of flavor -- from various fresh veggies, herbs, and cheeses to the delicious dressing that brings it all together. To make the tastiest grain salad to share with family and friends at your next summer barbecue, follow this simple tip from Ina Garten: Dress the grains while they're warm. As far as cooking tips go it doesn't get much simpler. Just add your vinaigrette immediately or soon after your grains have cooked, as long as they are still warm, and you'll take your salad from mediocre to exceptional in no time.

Celebrity chef and renowned cookbook author Ina Garten is known for her elegant and efficiently prepared dishes. Whether in her cookbooks or on her popular Food Network show, the "Barefoot Contessa" star gives home cooks the courage to create tasty, sophisticated meals by sharing easy-to-follow recipes and expert tips to help you up your cooking game. Dressing your grains while they're warm is one of those tips, shared in her 2018 cookbook "Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks." It's underrated tips like this that can make a world of difference when it comes to boosting the flavor of a timeless dish.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

An Easy Tip With Fantastic Results

Quinoa salad with tomato and basil
Quinoa salad with tomato and basil - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

If you've tried adding vinaigrette to a cold grain salad you may have noticed that the dressing sits on top of the grains instead of soaking into them. Dressing your grains while still warm allows the vinaigrette to be better absorbed, resulting in a more flavorful salad. The warm, starchy grains soak up the liquid similar to how warm pasta absorbs sauce better than cold pasta -- which is why it's recommended to cook your noodles in the sauce instead of adding it after it's been plated.

For the most flavorful grain salad, immediately after cooking your grains, mix them in with your veggies and other ingredients, and then add the vinaigrette. The warm grains will be nice and soft, the perfect texture for absorbing liquid like a sponge. Grain salads can be served immediately while warm or put in the fridge for later. Unlike leafy green salads that become soggy and undesirable when dressed and eaten later, grain salads only become more delicious as they sit in their dressing. If you're reserving it for an upcoming picnic or work lunch and like a ton of flavor in your salad, consider packing a small amount of dressing to top it with right before eating.

Other Tips For Flavorful Grains

Grain salad with lemon wedges
Grain salad with lemon wedges - Sima_ha/Getty Images

Besides Ina Garten's super helpful tip to dress your salad while warm, follow these other cooking suggestions for a perfectly fresh and flavorful grain salad. For one, too much water in your salad will dilute the flavor and create a soggy mess, therefore, it's important to make sure your grains and veggies are thoroughly dried before incorporating them in your salad. Grain salads are often dressed with oil-based vinaigrettes or olive oil -- like a tasty quinoa salad with broccoli, feta, and lemon olive oil or a scrumptious summer quinoa salad with creamy lemon dressing. When oil is added to a watery salad, you'll find that it won't mix properly, so make sure to drain the grains well after cooking and dry your veggies after washing.

Another helpful tip is to season your grains while they cook. Adding salt to the water as they boil is always a great idea for amping up the flavor of your grains, which are typically not very flavorful on their own. Adding some fresh aromatics like garlic, ginger, thyme, and peppercorns will also liven them up. Instead of just cooking your grains in plain water, try trading half the water for a more flavorful liquid like chicken broth, orange juice, or vegetable juice. Regardless of what you incorporate in your grain salad, as long as you dress it while it's still warm, it'll taste delicious.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.