This wheatberry salad has all the moves. It will make you feel like virtue incarnate, all the while comforting your weary, recession-worn soul. You’ll want to ask whether it has a single brother, but who could understand you with your mouth so full of chewy goodness?
After a weekend of eating maybe a little too indulgently (spaghetti with meatballs, short ribs and polenta, spinach lasagna – look for these goodies here in the coming weeks), a girl needs a certain measure of detox. If you’re like me, though, you wouldn’t be caught dead drinking green juice all day long for three days. Enter the handsome, charming wheatberry salad with dried fruit. It’s almost annoyingly virtuous, except that it tastes so good you’ll never notice. A little sweet, a little savory, with a deeply satisfying texture – oh, it’s vegan, alright, but not the kind that’ll make you feel bad about yourself for wearing leather shoes to work.
Wheatberries seem rather exotic, still, I think; but in truth, they couldn’t be more commonplace or easier to handle. A wheatberry is a hulled wheat kernel – the starting point, containing all of the edible parts of the wheat plant, from which flour is milled. Wheatberries are inexpensive and are available in bulk at Whole Foods, at natural foods stores, and increasingly in regular supermarkets. They are sold in two forms: hard, which take a little longer to cook, and soft, which are not soft at all, but do cook up a little faster. You can use either in this recipe; just adjust the cooking time accordingly. Either way, if you’re new to wheatberries, I think you’ll be glad you gave them a try. If you already know and love them, I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe.
Before you go, could we return, for a minute, to the topic of things with the potential to be annoying? I’ve been told that, as a blogger, I am supposed to join Twitter and tweet you when I post here, so you won’t forget I exist (or possibly so I won’t forget I exist – it’s a little unclear to me at this point). Anyway, if you like that sort of thing, please go ahead and follow me on Twitter. (Gulp.) I promise not to tweet unless I’ve got something reasonably tweetworthy to say.
For the salad:
2 cups wheatberries
1 handful dried apricots, chopped
1 handful dried cherries, chopped
1/4 small red onion, diced small
4 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
For the vinaigrette:
Juice of ½ lemon
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water and three tablespoons of salt to a rolling boil. Add the wheatberries and cook until they are chewy and as tender as you’d like them, probably about 70 minutes for hard berries and 50-60 minutes for soft. Drain.
While the wheatberries are cooking, prepare the vinaigrette. In a bowl large enough to accommodate all the ingredients for the salad, combine the lemon juice, vinegar and mustard with two big pinches of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream, until emulsified. Chop the cherries, apricots, onion, scallions and parsley and add them to the bowl. When the wheatberries are done, add them to the bowl while they’re hot, and mix well to coat everything with dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature. A little crumbled feta would be a great addition, if you’re in the mood.