Picnic-Perfect Grain Salads

By Debbie Koenig

Picnic season is upon us! I love eating outdoors this time of year, meeting friends for a potluck picnic. My contributions usually include two program-oriented options: a fruit-based dessert and a grain salad. Any Weight Watchers member understands the thinking behind the fruity dessert—you guarantee that you’ll be able to have a sweet treat like everyone else. The salad rationale ensures a main dish that’ll fill you up for relatively few SmartPoints® thanks to chewy, satisfying whole grains. Their sturdy nature means they won’t go limp en route to the picnic grounds, unlike a lettuce-based salad.

My go-to involves wheat berries (which I find irresistible), vegetables galore, canned beans or leftover cooked chicken, fresh herbs, and maybe a small scattering of nuts or dried fruit, all tossed in a lemony dressing. The SmartPoints value changes every time, but it rarely goes over 7 per serving. (Pro tip: Use a pressure cooker to prep a big batch of your chosen whole grain, then freeze in recipe-sized portions.)

No surprise, the Recipe Database offers ideas aplenty:

Quinoa Salad with Corn and Peppers (4 SmartPoints value/serving) is lightly sweet thanks to two citrus juices in the dressing, making it super-kid-friendly.

Layered Mason Jar Quinoa and Veggie Salad (5 SmartPoints value/serving) comes in a mason jar. It’s intended to travel!

Greek Farro Salad with Asparagus, Peas, Feta, and Dill (7 SmartPoints value/serving) makes a perfect light supper before an outdoor concert.

Freekeh Salad with Chicken, Peaches, and Tarragon (4 SmartPoints value/serving) makes my mouth water just to type it. Are you familiar with freekeh? I love it. It’s a Middle Eastern whole grain—green, unripe wheat gets roasted to remove the husk, and the flame imparts a lightly smoky flavor. It’ll definitely take your picnic above the everyday.

Barley Salad with Grapes and Pecans (5 SmartPoints value/serving) marries mellow, nutty barley with sweet grapes, bitter radicchio, and sharp scallions.

And there’s also Whole Wheat Couscous Salad (5 SmartPoints value/serving), Brown Rice Salad with Black Beans & Corn (6 SmartPoints value/serving), Asian Millet Salad (5 SmartPoints value/serving), and Bulgur Salad with Cherries and Feta (3 SmartPoints value/serving). Clearly, the possibilities are endless.

Follow Debbie on Connect @debbieskoenig

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