Don’t you just love when an ingredient sounds like it was invented in a fairy tale?
Beneath the leaves of an unassuming bramble bush, in a wooded field not far from your backyard, the wild wheatberries lie. They’re the tiniest of berries, no larger than a flea, and none too impressive in appearance, but please don’t be fooled: Sometimes, within the smallest packages, there lives the greatest power.
Yes, yes, my mind is wandering. But even if you’re one who’s skeptical of our tiny protagonist’s humble beginnings, I think it’s safe to say that wheatberries do add an undeniably magical contribution to the culinary stage. They’re nutty little grains that are packed with nutrients, and they never seem to mush up, no matter how long you cook them. That’s a good thing! Although they definitely soften through the boiling process, they retain a nice bite to the bitter end, which makes them perfect for a salad tossed with all sorts of other goodies.
This wheatberry salad from Ina Garten is perfect for a noontime meal or an evening side. Pretty, fresh, crisp and good for you. Hooray for the wheatberry! Hooray!
Adapted slightly from Barefoot Contessa Family Style (Ina Garten, p. 67)
• 1 cup hard winter wheatberries
• kosher salt
• 1 red onion, finely diced
• 5 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 4 scallions, minced
• ½ red bell pepper, diced
• 1 carrot, diced
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a medium or large saucepan, bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil. Stir in the wheatberries and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour, until the wheatberries are soft. Drain.
While the wheatberries are finishing up cooking, sauté the red onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, until the onions are translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pan from the heat, and add balsamic vinegar and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
In a large bowl, mix together the warm wheatberries, sautéed onions and all of your fresh ingredients: scallions, bell pepper and carrot. Add the black pepper and a touch more salt if needed. Let the salad sit for about 30 minutes before serving. Serve at room temperature.
Do you have any delicious salad recipes up your sleeve? How about a great recipe for wheatberries? My cupboards now floweth over with wheatberry goodness. They must be put to good use!
Wheatberries can be a little tricky to track down. We found ours at Whole Foods in the bulk food section. I hear that health food stores are also a great place to look. Or maybe in the bushes behind your house. Happy hunting!