Radish and Pecan Grain Salad

January 25, 2011
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6 to 8 as a side
Author Notes

When you write about food, you always have your "foodar" on, as you search for new ideas to write about. So at a recent holiday party at our friends' Rachel and Morgan's, where I was supposedly watching after my two little ones, my foodar went "BE-EP! BE-EP!" when I tasted a grain salad that was served along with delicious roasted turkey.

The salad was made with farro, wild rice, quinoa, and barley. The grains were threaded with pecans, raisins, and dried cranberries and the salad was brightened with bits of arugula, radishes, and a wash of sherry vinegar and walnut oil. It was the kind of salad that sounds like a starchy do-gooder, but it has grace and conviction, and you'll want to eat it every day for lunch. Andrew Burman and Matt Monahan, the chefs at Court Street Grocers, who were the caterers that evening, kindly shared the recipe with me. —Amanda Hesser

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups mixed grains (like farro, freekeh, wheat berries, wild rice, and quinoa, pearl barley, or any combination of the above)
  • 1 cup baby arugula leaves
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, minced
  • 1/2 cup tarragon leaves, minced
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, cut in a chiffonade
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 cup lime, watermelon, or French breakfast radishes, cut into thin slices, preferably using a mandoline
  • 1/4 cup shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the grains and cook until just tender, about 25 minutes. (With grains like wild rice and wheat berries, add them to the pot first and cook 10 minutes before adding remaining grains).
  2. Drain the grains into a colander, then set aside until warm to the touch.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Season with salt to taste.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Yessica
  • foodyjudy
  • epicharis
  • Heather Schöll
    Heather Schöll
  • Chef Devaux
    Chef Devaux
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

70 Reviews

Yessica July 29, 2019
This recipe is perfect as is. I enjoy playing with different grains as I don't always have the same at hand. Every time I make it and share it with someone new, they ask for the recipe. Radish and Pecan Grain Salad practically perfect in every way!
Teresa July 24, 2019
Just wondering how this would hold up if I made it a day ahead of serving?
Amanda H. July 25, 2019
Hi Teresa, this salad should hold up well if made the day before. In fact, it's the kind of salad that benefits from a little sitting. Just make sure to taste and adjust seasoning the day you serve.
foodyjudy October 6, 2016
Okay. I read all the comments and determined that maybe I shouldn't use the tarragon. And maybe i shouldn't use the olive oil and the walnut oil AND the sherry vinegar. WRONG, WRONG WRONG. This recipe is perfect as it is. I cooked the grains the day before and added the walbut oil and vinegar while they were still warm. That allowed them to soak up the liquid. Next day i added all the other stuff which definitely needed the olive oil and served sans tarragon. I sent mt friend/food guru home with leftover salad and a sprig of tarragon. He wrote tge next a.m. Add the tarragon! All i can say is, Listen to Amanda!!
Amanda H. October 7, 2016
Glad it made you happy!
lois June 24, 2016
I'm eating leftovers for lunch right now. I was wary of cooking grains (in my case, a mix of farro, barley, Israeli couscous, and millet) like pasta, but that worked fine. I used spinach instead of arugula, and would use more next time. I thought the grain-to-vegetable ratio was a little off. I whisked the olive oil with the vinegar before adding, and eliminated the walnut oil altogether. You don't need that extra quarter cup.
epicharis February 9, 2016
This recipe has always intrigued me and I was ecstatic for the opportunity to finally try it. I'm sorry to say this is one of the precious few Food52 recipes I won't make again. It's not a bad salad by any means, it simply doesn't work (except the texture, which is delightful). The radish, mint and raisins seem to make sense, but then you get a bite of tarragon or parsley and it ruins it. I like the shallots, cranberries and pecans, but then the mint or the radishes taste jarring. "The radishes are like foreign invaders," my boyfriend observed. Again, it's not bad, it just doesn't make sense to me. I would nominate this for Your Favorite Side Dish To Serve On Alpha Centauri.
Heather S. January 14, 2016
Just made this to use up some random remnants of grains in our pantry- yum! Also used a blood orange instead of the dried fruit and cilantro instead of parsley and spinach instead of arugula. Just what I had on hand. Served with some scallops and it was the perfect fresh winter salad meal. Thanks! Will make again!
Molly January 5, 2016
I made this for my family for Christmas dinner, using barley and quinoa and it came out great. I bought walnut oil specifically for this recipe, but I don't think it was entirely necessary. I also added more arugula as I continued to eat the salad as leftovers. I liked it so much, I made it again for a New Year's Eve party. Everyone loved it!
John December 7, 2015
Glad to know.
Bob December 6, 2015
You did a great job by making this super delicious salad.
John December 6, 2015
This salad is amazing and it looks also fantastic.
Chef D. November 14, 2015
The pic looks great! I just want to dig in and eat that salad
Caitlan R. March 3, 2015
Great Combo
Debra C. January 22, 2015
Made this at Thanksgiving. I used farro, buckwheat and tricolor quinoa. No dried cranberries so I used dried cherries. My vegetarian son loved it and my carnivore husband really liked it.
deborah January 15, 2015
Visually appealing,Delicious and Satisfying...I used farro and barley. The textures , flavor blends and chewiness, made this a recipe a real winner. Lucky for me, I have parsley, tarragon, mint arugula and radishes growing in my garden! The grains were easy since I mill all my flour. No doubt, this will become favorite...since my hubby said he really enjoyed it as well. ;) I roasted a chicken with lemon, garlic and lemon thyme...served the salad with a few slices of chicken...heaven. :) Thank you Amanda!
Amanda H. January 17, 2015
So glad you like it -- but now I have garden envy! :)
deborah January 17, 2015
Amanda, Yes...I am quite lucky living in a climate that allows for year round gardening. Every meal I wander out back to first see what could be harvested, then plan my menu. Life is good.
CurioCook February 12, 2014
I made this for my lunches this week -- so good! It seems so simple, but it is very tasty and satisfying. I didn't have sherry vinegar so used apple cider vin, and olive oil because they don't have anything more adventurous at our local grocery store… still worked well! I like a bit of local NZ sheep's milk feta on top. Yum yum!
tulip549 February 3, 2014
Great recipe. I made this for Superbowl Sunday- used farro and quinoa. I doubled the amount of arugula, added cilantro, sesame seeds, almonds, cranberries, radishes, and cashews, and my sauce consisted of olive oil, lemon juice, rice vinegar, honey, shallots, garlic, chile pepper and salt all blended together.

I made the farro and quinoa the night before and poured some dressing to let the flavors mingle. Would recommend tossing in the arugula and remainder of the greens an hour or so before you plan to serve such that the greens looks fresh and not wilted.

These sorts of grain salad recipes are great in the sense that you can improvise and throw in whatever you want! :D
Cynthea September 10, 2013
I made this dish for a pot-luck birthday party. I used black rice, quinoa and wild rice for the grains to keep it GF. I was so delighted with the many flavors and nuances that I kept tasting it and worried that I might have to make another before I got it to the party! YUM! Thanks for sharing.
KatherineC July 4, 2013
Can you recommend a whole fruit substitute for the dried cranberries/raisins? Also is it 1/2 pound or 1/2 cup pecans?
Amanda H. July 4, 2013
Cherries, blueberries, or diced peach would be good. And I'm glad you asked about the pecans, I think that was a typo. Should be 1/2 cup.
KatherineC July 9, 2013
Thanks! I stuck with the dried fruit and used a mixture of blueberries, cherries, raisins and cranberries. It was fun to use a variety of dried fruit. I made it gluten-free with wild rice, quinoa and buckwheat groats - it was delicious!
Chloe8 June 15, 2013
yum. Any substitute for walnut oil? Perhaps this oil makes the dish perfect?
Amanda H. June 15, 2013
The walnut oil is a nice touch but there are a lot of other great flavors in this dish, so olive oil would be a perfectly fine substitute.
Josie M. June 5, 2013
Simply fantastic. Glad to have a good use for my big tarragon plant and garden radishes, too!