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Wheat Berry Salad with Citrus Dressing

November 23, 2010

 “Plump wheat berries shimmering with an orange-flecked citrus dressing makes this a lively winter salad.”

This was the recipe description that started it off…

I had a craving, a full-blown gotta have it NOW craving!  Most of us are familiar with unhealthy cravings for such things as chocolate ice cream,  brownies, or mounds of cheese melted on cheese. (mmm cheese…) This craving was of the rare healthy kind. The kind of craving that got me out of the house grocery shopping with TWO children looking for one particular food. Wheat berries. I craved a  this supreme wheat berry salad, and yes it would be mine.  I know strange but my mother always told me I was strange.

Wheat berries, huh?  This salad I craved called for whole wheat berries which cook up into plump, chewy grains which are nutritionally intact because they contain the bran and the germ.  Not exactly sure what nutrient my body was craving, it was no matter, my craving was screaming “WHEATBERRIES NOW!” and I was listening. The only down side to those darn wheat berries are their marathon cooking times. Try this to save time on the cooking end so you can make this salad before your healthy craving morphs into picking up a Little Caesars “Hot and Ready” pizza eating a hot gooey cheesy slice on the way home. (What! a hem- that was not me.) Soak the berries in water with a touch of apple cider vinegar (or other acid medium) for a few hours up to overnight at room temp. Mason jars work well for this.

Ok, enough jibber jabber and on to the recipe already.

Wheat Berry Salad with Citrus, Pine Nuts, Feta and Spinach
from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking

Sorry no pic, I devoured it too fast. Next time…next time.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups soft wheat berries, rinsed (I used hard red and they worked great!)
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt, plus more as needed

Citrus Dressing:

  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot (or red onion)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine-grain sea salt  (use whatever salt you have)
  •  Freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

  • 3 generous handfuls spinach leaves, stemmed and well rinsed
  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts (toast on a dry skillet until fragrant and golden)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Combine the wheat berries (soaked and rinsed if prefered), water and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy, about an hour or so. The berries should stay al dente, and the only way to be sure they’re done is to taste a few. Drain and season to taste with more salt.
  2. To make the dressing, combine the orange zest and juice, lemon juice, and shallot. Whisk in the olive oil and season with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  3. Toss the hot wheat berries with the spinach, pine nuts, citrus dressing, then top with the feta. Taste for seasoning and sprinkle with a bit more salt if needed.

Serves 4 to 6. Enjoy!

Additions: I added shaved carrot and dried tart cherries to mine. Feel free to mix it up. Don’t have $$$ for pine nuts? Neither do I, use toasted walnuts they work just fine.

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