Yes, I know, you've missed me and wondered what I've been up to that could possibly be so important as to tear me away from you. Well, get over it. I'm not telling (cough, napping). All that matters is I'm back and I come bearing healthy, wintery, salady treats. Exactly what you've been craving, I know! I've had a hankering for wheat berries lately...they have a great nutty flavor and a satisfying crunch that makes me feel warm and toasty, even when served room temperature. Not to mention that for you health conscious folks out there, they're a treasure trove of protein, fiber and iron. To my shock and dismay, my enthused references to wheat berries -- since apparently in my deranged mind, they make for a great cocktail convo -- have met with a fair amount of confusion from some of my nearest and dearest. So if you're someone who has never heard of them, or someone who has had an unpleasant encounter, I beg of you, do try again.
This recipe is really simple to execute and easily works as either a vegetarian main course or an inventive filler dish for a dinner party. Wheat berries take about an hour to cook, which means you can do most of the prep while those babies are boilin' away...
|Wheat berries, before and after|
Winter Wheat Berry Salad
Roasted brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, zucchini, onion and feta cheese
1 cup wheat berries
1 medium zucchini, julienned
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
12 brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 - 3.5 cups chicken stock (can be substituted with vegetable stock or water, depending on preference)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs chopped parsley
2.5 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2.5 tbs lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°
In a medium pot, combine wheat berries and 3 cups of stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover. Simmer for 1 hour or until tender, possibly 50 minutes. If more liquid is needed, add remaining half cup. Stir once or twice to ensure that grains aren't sticking to the bottom. When ready, remove from heat and strain out extra liquid if necessary. Run under cool water until room temperature.
While wheat berries are cooking, place brussels sprouts in a bowl. Drizzle the sprouts with olive oil (roughly 2 tsp), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and mix. Spread the sprouts on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden and crispy on the outside. When finished, remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature.
In a sautee pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil. Add onion and garlic and sautee until soft and translucent. Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature.
Once all the cooked ingredients have reached a neutral temperature, combine them in a large bowl and add julienned zucchini, cranberries and feta cheese. Mix lemon juice and remaining olive oil and dress salad.* Sprinkle with parsley to garnish. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve (stays delicious and beautiful for a couple of days).
*I personally like a lot of lemon juice and usually use closer to 3tbs. I recommend starting with the juice of one lemon and tasting as you go to determine your preferred ratio.