Friday, December 2, 2016

Wheatberry Salad

Last Year's Post: Turkey Farro Salad with Candied Chickpeas
Two Years Ago:   Beer Cheese

Wheatberries are literally the entire kernel of wheat, minus the hull.  They're an excellent source of protein, potassium, dietary fiber and iron. But that's not why I like them so much - it's because they're a wonderfully chewy grain that makes a substantial salad that doesn't wilt, and they're a neutral canvas that absorbs the flavors of the vinaigrette.  In this recipe, the vinaigrette delivers a garlic and vinegar profile while the veggies and almonds add flavor, color and texture.  It's one of my favorite salads and is perfect served along side any roasted or grilled meats or poultry.

Wheatberries are very trendy right now in grain bowls and added to salads in restaurants, but 10 years ago when I first found this recipe they were pretty exotic and found only in natural food stores.  That's still your most likely place to find them, but I've seen them occasionally in the bulk food aisles of regular grocery stores.

Be aware that wheatberries need to soak overnight (or cook longer) to soften the hard outer covering and even then they cook for 90 minutes.  Your best bet is to make this salad the day ahead - it tastes better the next day anyway because all the flavors have a chance to blend.

Wheatberry Salad
6 servings

This salad gets better as it sits, so try to make it the day before serving.  

1 cup wheatberries                                                    
6 cups water or low sodium chicken broth                
½ teaspoon kosher salt                                             
1 bay leaf                                                                    
½ cup chopped artichoke hearts                                  
½ cup quartered cherry tomatoes
½ cup diced roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
3 tablespoons sliced green onions
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or cilantro

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (don’t use bottled)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a saucepan with a well-fitted lid, put the wheatberries, water, salt and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered until the wheat berries are pleasantly chewy (about 90 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat, discard the bay leaf, let the berries cool in the liquid. 

When cool, drain and put the wheat berries in a large bowl.  Add the remaining salad ingredients.  Make the vinaigrette by whisking all the ingredients together.  Toss with the salad.  Let sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature (or longer, refrigerated) before serving.

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