Wheat Berry Citrus Salad

One of my favorite ingredients since I’ve started focusing on whole foods is wheat berries. A wheat berry is essentially the entire wheat kernel.  They are high in protein, and once cooked, have a terrific chewy texture that makes a vegetarian meal feel substantial. I’m always looking for new ways to use wheat berries, and usually wind up featuring them in some kind of salad.

My typical approach to cooking is to go through my refrigerator and see what I have on-hand and then decide which of these things might go well together.  Sometimes my attempt flops, but it works more often than I would have imagined. Today I pulled out the following assortment of ingredients (most shown in the photo below): oranges, grapefruit, lemons, shallots, spring onions, jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), baby turnips, and radishes.

Combined this made for a nice, bright winter salad. I’m looking forward to leftovers when the dressing has had more time to absorb into the wheat berries. I made extra dressing, and plan to use it this weekend – I might make a spinach salad, or use it with fish or shrimp for dinner one night.

Before starting, segment:

  • 2 oranges
  • 1 grapefruit

reserving the segments for the salad, and the juice for the dressing. (After taking out the segments, I used a citrus reamer to extract the remaining juice and pulp for the dressing.)

For the dressing, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a small nonstick skillet. When hot, add:

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • spring onions, white parts minced (reserve the green tops)

Cook, stirring frequently, until they are translucent and tender.  Place in bowl.  Add to the bowl:

  • reserved juice from 2 oranges and 1 grapefruit
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp. white balsamic (optional) – I wanted a little extra acidity, but opted for a white balsamic which is still sweet and would complement the citrus flavors.
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil.

For the salad, combine:

  • 2 cups cooked wheat berries (see note below on cooking them)
  • orange and grapefruit segments
  • reserved green parts of spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 small jerusalem artichokes, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3 baby turnips (greens reserved for another use), peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice

Spoon about 1/3 cup dressing onto the salad, and let sit for several minutes to allow the dressing to be somewhat absorbed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note on Cooking Wheat Berries: As I’ve noted before, I like to cook a big batch of wheat berries at a time, then freeze the leftovers.  Rinse the wheat berries, then place in a large pot and cover with salted water (about 3 times as much water as wheat berries).  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 60-90 minutes, until they are chewy, but still firm.  You may need to add more water while they cook.

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