Ever cook with wheat berries before? If not, you should try it. A versatile and high-fiber grain, wheat berries are said to be the mother grain from which pasta, bread and flour are derived. Nutty, delightfully chewy, robust and full of flavor, they’re also high in protein and can be used much like any other whole grain. I like to add them to stews, stir-fries, and salads (Wheat Berries and Roasted Delicata Squash and Leek Salad with Tofu and Wheat Berries).Their nutty flavor, chewy texture and plump shape win me (and especially my toddler!) over every time I make them.
Wheat berries can be found in the health food section of most grocery stores. Cook them as you would pasta, in a large pot of boiling water, but note wheat berries take more time to cook (about 1 hour) to reach desired tenderness. The jury is still out as to whether or not they need to be soaked overnight. I usually soak mine, even though it may only shorten cooking time by 10 minutes.
This vibrant salad combines the flavors of tangy-sweet oranges, peppery arugula, crunchy and slightly sweet fennel, and robust wheat berries to make an appealingly nutritious meal.
Orange, Arugula, Fennel, and Wheat Berry Salad
¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (lemon will also work)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons orange zest, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup wheat berries
¼ cup black olives, slivered
1 large fennel bulb, sliced very thinly
5 ounces arugula
1-2 navel oranges, peeled, white piths removed and cut in slices, wedges or strips
To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
Bring a very large pot of water to boil. Add wheat berries, partially cover and cook until tender, but still chewy, about 1 hour. Drain and allow to cool, slightly. While wheat berries are still warm toss them in a large bowl with about half of the dressing. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Toss in black olives and fennel. Toss in arugula, oranges and remaining dressing. Taste again. Season, making any adjustments. Garnish with orange zest, freshly ground black pepper and serve.