Winter salads are a fun challenge when cooking with locally-produced foods (or at least as many local foods as possible). My CSA veggie boxes have been full of wonderful root vegetables for the past few weeks, so when I decided to make a salad to take to a pot-luck dinner they were a natural focal point. It’s an added bonus when I can prepare a dish with a variety of healthy ingredients without having to make a stop at the grocery store.
I’d stored up a bunch of beets, radishes, turnips, carrots, and parsnips that I was able to use. There are a lot of options for cooking the root vegetables (and I could have used most of them raw), but I love what oven roasting does for their flavor as they mellow and sweeten. It’s so simple (just chop them into a relatively uniform size), toss in a bit of olive oil and sea salt, then roast at 375-degrees until they are just starting to get tender. I added cooked wheat berries that I’d prepared the day before to add a nice chewy texture and some protein. I also had a bag of clementines (which are now in season), so I added clementine segments to the salad. I mixed up a citrus vinaigrette to tie everything together. This is not that different than one of my earlier recipes for wheat berries with roasted root vegetables, but I like this version better. The clementine segments in the salad are a nice complement to the root vegetables, brightening up the flavors a bit, and the dressing was a little easier to put together (since I used prepared orange juice in it).
One of the nice things about this salad is that a lot of it can be made up in advance and even frozen so that you can put it together in almost no time. Both wheat berries and roasted root vegetables store well in the freezer, so I usually have a bag of both on-hand and can just take out what I need for salads and other recipes.
For the wheat berries, combine in a large sauce pan:
- 1 cup hard winter wheat berries (I buy them from the bulk section at Whole Foods)
- 3 cups salted waterBring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer until they are getting tender but still chewy, about 60-90 minutes. (The final texture really is a matter of taste.) Drain well.
You can use them right away, refrigerate them for a few days, or freeze them.
For the root vegetables (I used beets, parsnips, carrots, turnips, and radishes), pre-heat your oven to 375-degrees. Cover one or two rimmed baking sheets with foil (depending on how many vegetables you will be roasting – you want them to be able to lie in a single layer on the pan). Cut root vegetables of your choice into roughly even pieces (I usually aim for a one-quarter-inch dice). Drizzle with good-quality olive oil and sea salt, then toss to coat all evenly. Roast until they are starting to get tender – about 20-30 minutes at most for 1/4-inch pieces – tossing frequently to prevent them from sticking to the foil.
For the citrus vinaigrette, whisk together in a small bowl:
- 1/3 cup orange juice (I like to use fresh, unpasteurized OJ)
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar (preferably unfiltered)
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
To assemble the salad, toss together in a large bowl:
- cooked and cooled wheat berries
- cooled roasted root vegetables
- clementines segments
- dressing (you may not need all of the dressing, depending on how much of the other ingredients you use)
The salad can be served cold or at room temperature.