Wheat Berry Salad
This is inspired by a wheat berry salad in Heidi Swanson’s book Super Natural Cooking, and by the fact that we can now find local wheat berries at the farmers market from Shepherd Farms. Wheat berries are the entire wheat kernel minus the hull. It’s what you can use to mill and make your own wheat flour. Or you can use the whole grains as a substitute in dishes that call for rice or quinoa.
Soaking the grains can help make them easier to digest and shorten the cooking time, but you can also skip the soaking and cook them about 10 minutes longer.
Makes 6–8 servings
- 2 tablespoons whey, yogurt or fresh lemon
- juice (optional)
- 2 cups wheat berries
- Sea salt
- 1 pomegranate
- 1⁄4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
- 2–3 green onions, finely chopped, tough green ends trimmed away
- 1 bunch or bag of spinach, sliced into chiffonade or
- ribbon-like strips
- 1⁄4 cup sliced almonds
- 2–3 ounces goat cheese, such as chevre or feta
Soak the wheat berries in enough water to cover them. Add the whey, yogurt or lemon juice and let sit for 12–24 hours. Drain and rinse.
Bring about 6 cups of water to boil in a medium-sized saucepan over high heat. Add the wheat berries and a couple teaspoons of salt. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about an hour, or until the wheat berries are tender and chewy. Drain the wheat berries. While the wheat berries are cooking, cut and de-seed the pomegranate by cutting partway through the top and then prying open the fruit over a bowl to catch the seeds. Separate and discard the white membrane, then set aside
In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the still-warm wheat berries, the green onions, spinach, almonds and reserved pomegranate seeds. Stir to combine all the ingredients evenly and to wilt the spinach. Taste and add additional sea salt and a little more vinegar if needed. Then crumble the goat cheese on top with a little more freshly ground pepper and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
Making It Local
Beginner: Use local produce—green onions, spinach and pomegranate.
Experienced Locavore: Buy the other main ingredients at the farmers market or local specialty shop—local wheat berries, almonds, olive oil, vinegar, goat cheese.
Ultimate Locavore: Make your own sea salt from local seawater and harvest pink peppercorns from local pepper trees.
Photo by Erin Feinblatt