Let me start this by saying I am not a foodie hippie. While I do enjoy granola, my cupboards are not filled with wacky ingredients like agave, nor do I believe that all organic food is the right way to go. I don’t have many cupboards in my apartment, so I try to keep quasi-normal ingredients in my pantry. However, I have a stash of wheat berries. I was first introduced to wheat berries a year ago, and it was an interesting adventure to procure the nutty wheat gems. I originally found them in a natural bulk food store, of the organics variety, with a higher price point. In fairness, I had no idea what I was looking for, but I was pleased once I made my first salad. They were delicious and worth it. Once I was armed with what wheat berries looked like, I found them much cheaper at Loblaws, but under another name: wheat kernels.
Wheat berries are the whole kernel of wheat, minus the hull, so they are chockful of nutrients. Wheat is typically stripped of nutrients during the processing of white flour. Wow, I sound kind of like a granola girl… but what you really need to know, and all that matters is that they taste great and are incredibly filling. A little bit goes a long way. The slightly nutty flavour is captured within a chewy nugget that is perfect for salads, soups, and sides.
The following salad combines wheat berries with equally nutty wild rice and pairs them with crunchy apples, sweet cranberries and toasted almonds. It is all tossed together in a flavourful citrus dressing. This is one of my favourite salads, and the slightly counterintuitive secret may be to dress the salad just as it is being served.
This recipe has been adapted from Raising the Salad Bar: Beyond Leafy Greens by Catherine Walthers, which features hearty salads with imaginative ingredients. I would not have tried wheat berries, otherwise!
Wild Rice and Wheat Berry Salad with Apple, Cranberries and Almonds in a Citrus Dressing
3/4 cup wheat berries, rinsed
1 cup wild rice, rinsed
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1/2 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Grated zest from 1 orange
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tbsp vinegar (balsamic, raspberry or rice – I used rice)
1 tbsp finely minced shallot or green onion
2 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1. Add the wheat berries to a large saucepan filled with enough salted water to cover them by several inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, covered for 35 minutes. Add the wild rice and salt to the pot. Bring to a boil again, lower the heat then simmer and cook, partially covered, for an additional 50-55 minutes. Many of the wild rice grains will have split somewhat, but they will have a little bite. Test as you cook; cooked wheat berries are still somewhat chewy. Drain well. Stir in the dried cranberries and and set aside to cool completely.
2. In a large serving bowl, combine the cooled grains and cranberries with the apple and parsley. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Add the dressing to the salad and mix well; garnish with nuts.