How to Build a Grain Salad, According to Tusk Chef Sam Smith

Here's the Mideast restaurant’s formula for a perfect spring bowl.

By Benjamin Tepler March 20, 2017 Published in the April 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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Tusk chef Sam Smith shares his golden formula for a build-your own spring grain bowl. Choose one of each type of ingredient unless otherwise indicated. This recipe serves four as a sald, two as a main course.

3 Cups Vegetables

Choose two.

Options: Fava beans, blanched for 15 seconds in very salty water and peeled // Radishes, raw, halved or quartered // Celery, raw, sliced ¼-inch-thick // Beets, roasted in a pan tightly covered with tin foil with a splash of water, zinfandel vinegar, olive oil, and salt. Afterward: peel and cut into 1/2-inch chunks or cubes // English peas, blanched for 15 seconds in very salty water // Porcini mushrooms: cut into ¼-inch cubes and sautéed with olive oil and salt

It goes without saying: vegetables are the star of the show; go to the farmers market for your produce. Supermarket celery will always be watery and bland.

3 Cups Cooked Grains

Barley // Green Wheat // Farro

Smith is an Ayers Creek acolyte. You can find the Gaston-based farm’s grains and produce at Providore Market.

1½ Cups Fresh Herbs

Parsley // Tarragon // Mint // Chervil // Dill // Basil

Choose two.

1 Cup Cheese

Portland Creamery chèvre, broken into clumps // Briar Rose Creamery feta, crumbled // Black Sheep Creamery Brebis, broken into clumps

1 Cup Nuts

Hazelnuts, chopped // Pistachios, toasted and chopped // Walnuts, toasted and chopped

½ Cup Olive Oil

Smith likes Napa Valley’s Katz for vinegar and olive oil.

¼ Cup Vinegar

Sauvignon blanc vinegar // Honey vinegar // Zinfandel vinegar

A Drizzle of Nut Oil

Hazelnut // Argan // Walnut

Smith uses Moroccan argan oil to add a nutty, Mid-East accent to his plates. But it’s pricy, so use sparingly. $25 for 100 mL at World Foods.

A Sprinkle of Spice

Sumac // Aleppo pepper // Black pepper

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