Why Ina Garten Dresses Grain Salads While They're Still Hot

Grain salads pack a punch in terms of nutrition, as they are a complete meal that you can be totally in control of as far as ingredients are concerned. This customizability allows you to fill your bowl to the brim with a wide variety of nutritious foods, including filling carbohydrates, tasty proteins, and mineral and vitamin-rich veggies. This is also what makes grain salads unexpectedly tricky to put together, as — like other, grain-free salads — there are no real rules for how to make one.

Lucky for you, there are plenty of tips to keep up your sleeve when building a grain bowl or salad. Following a formula (Food52 recommends grains first, vegetables second, protein third, and dressing last) can make the process easier. Deciding on a flavor profile, like Mediterranean or Southwest, will also help you choose ingredients that work well together, with the perfect balance of flavors and textures. But from culinary icon herself Ina Garten comes one particular grain salad tip you may have not heard before: make sure to dress the dish while your cooked grains are still warm (via Kitchn).

Garten's tip will amp up your grain salad's flavor

To take the flavor of your grain salads to the next level Ina Garten recommends dressing the whole dish while the grains are still warm. The Kitchn tried the tip (which comes from Garten's cookbook "Cook Like a Pro") firsthand and got great results.

The outlet explains following Garten's tip allowed the dressing to make its way into the grain (for the test, the Kitchen used farro), pleasantly softening the base ingredient; The acidity of the dressing was likewise mellowed by the grain's warmth. And it's not just the grains and dressing that will benefit from the early introduction: If you include tough-to-digest ingredients like raw kale in your salad, the heat of the grains will work in tandem with an acidic dressing (like a lemon vinaigrette) to start breaking down the greens, allowing you to avoid some unnecessary massaging. Bon Appétit explains this works because the acid "break[s] down the cellulose," penetrating deeper the longer your dish rests — think of it as a quick marinade.

Using Ina Garten's everyday tip your next grain salad will come together quickly with tender grains and a bright, balanced flavor sure to impress.