Recently I relived my trip to Japan some 20 plus years ago when I had dinner at Nexto. What a delicious meal. I loved the Okonomiyaki, the Japanese pancake with bacon and squid, and the Wagyu Tartare. But the one dish I think I could make at home is the Winter Grain salad, a mix of farro, quinoa, beets, turnips and ginger vinaigrette. Do you think the chef will share the recipe? Thanks. — Eunice Mafundikwa, Brookhaven
Nexto chef and owner Mihoko Obunai was happy to share this recipe that is a staple on the menu but in seasonal variations. This salad is a great incentive to cook whole grains ahead and then refrigerate in meal size portions for use in cold salads such as this one. Shelled edamame is available frozen in many grocery stores, or you can buy edamame in the shell and pop out the peas yourself. You can find ume plum vinegar at your local natural foods store. Japanese sweet potatoes are available from some local farmers and at the Buford Highway Farmers Market. You can substitute a regular sweet potato if needed.
Nexto’s Winter/Spring Grain Salad
1 Japanese sweet potato
Vegetable oil for frying
Salt and pepper
1 cup 1/8-inch diced yellow and red beets
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup shelled edamame
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1 cup cooked farro
8 teaspoons Ginger Ume Plum Vinaigrette (see recipe), divided
2 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts
1/4 cup finely chopped scallion
Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, make very thin slices of Japanese sweet potato. Put in a bowl of cold water for 3 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, bring oil to 350 degrees. Fry sweet potato slices until crisp, about 3 minutes. Do not crowd oil. Continue until all potato slices are cooked. Sprinkle chips with a pinch of salt and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, toss diced beets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add edamame. Cook for 2 minutes, then drain and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine quinoa and farro. Toss with 4 teaspoons Ginger Ume Plum Vinaigrette and set aside for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, mix shredded Brussels sprouts, cooked beets, edamame and chopped scallions. Stir in remaining 4 teaspoons Ginger Ume Plum Vinaigrette. Combine Brussels sprouts mixture with grains and divide between 4 serving bowls. Garnish with fried Japanese sweet potato chips. Serves: 4
Per serving: 257 calories (percent of calories from fat, 32), 8 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber, 10 grams fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 57 milligrams sodium.
Ginger Ume Plum Vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
In the jar of a blender, combine olive oil, ume plum vinegar, rice vinegar, shallot, ginger and garlic. Mix until it forms a puree. Season to taste. Makes: 6 tablespoons
Per 1-teaspoon serving: 28 calories (percent of calories from fat, 97), trace protein, trace carbohydrates, trace fiber, 3 grams fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 5 milligrams sodium.