Autumn Wheat Berry Salad

 This Autumn Wheat Berry Salad features hearty wheat berries which provide a chewy and nutty texture.

This Autumn Wheat Berry Salad features hearty wheat berries which provide a chewy and nutty texture.

Do you have any random hidden talents or special abilities? There are two that immediately come to mind for me.

For starters, I feel I have an unparalleled expertise when it comes to researching random things on the internet. Whether it be finding just the right dining room chairs to match your new table or finding an obscure source or quote for an article, I’m your girl for that.

Secondly, and this is probably less surprising, is that I am able to make salads that even non-salad people stop and say, “Damn that is good!”. Thanks to this ability I’m usually the one who is in charge of salads and, well, vegetables in general for potlucks and group dinners.

In fact, as I was developing this Autumn Wheat Berry Salad, I thought of all the salad naysayers I could convert at the holidays with this dish. Packed with chewy wheat berries, kale and dried cranberries it also features one of my favorite flavor combinations: orange and rosemary. Topped off with some briny feta cheese, this will be a dish you’ll be asked to make over and over again.

 Thanks to the nutrition packed wheat berries this salad can be enjoyed all on its own or as a side dish for your favorite meals.

Thanks to the nutrition packed wheat berries this salad can be enjoyed all on its own or as a side dish for your favorite meals.

The star of this dish are wheat berries which are the unprocessed, whole kernel of wheat from which flour can be produced. Because they contain all three major parts of the kernel and are unprocessed, they do take a little longer to cook but the efforts are well worth it! There are several types of wheat berries including hard red winter, hard red spring and soft red winter. For this recipe, I prefer any of the hard varieties and have had great success using Bob’s Red Mill wheat berries in this recipe.

A few other quick reference notes about this dish:

  • Substitutions: If you don’t have or can’t find wheat berries, this salad can also be made with farro although it will be a little less chewy. Also, take note that farro does not take as long as to cook so refer to your brand’s cooking directions.

  • Try it with: Since wheat berries are a true whole grain, none of its essential nutrients are stripped during processing. This means its packed with fiber, protein and other nutrients that, combined with the other salad ingredients make this a great complete meal. However, it is also wonderful as a side dish! Try it with simple Roasted Chicken or Orange & Ginger Pork Tenderloin.

  • Meal Prep: This salad is a great option for meal prep as the flavor only gets better with time! However, I recommended making the whole salad at once and then storing it as the warm wheat berries better absorb the flavors. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, this salad will last one week. Bring to room temperature or lightly warm in a skillet before serving.

Autumn Wheat Berry Salad

Serves: 4

Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup hard wheat berries

4 cups water

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup finely chopped kale, packed

2 tablespoons chopped rosemary

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (optional, but recommended 😉)

Instructions:

1. Prepare the wheat berries by putting them in a colander and placing under cold, running water. Pick them over, removing any debris you may find. Drain well and place in a medium saucepan.

2. Add the water to the saucepan, making sure the wheat berries are covered by about 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once a boil has been reached, turn the heat to low and let simmer with the lid on for about 1 hour. Wheat berries are done when they are tender yet still slightly chewy. TIP: Not all of the water may be evaporated at this point - that’s a-okay! Just as long as the texture of the wheat berries are as mentioned, you are good to go.

3. Drain the wheat berries and place in a large bowl along with the minced shallot, cranberries, orange zest, chopped kale and rosemary. Stir well to combine.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the dijon mustard, orange juice, red wine vinegar and maple syrup. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Pour the dressing into the bowl with the wheat berries and toss well to evenly coat everything. Crumble in the feta cheese and toss lightly to combine.

6. Cover the bowl with either a lid or a clean towel and let sit for at least 10 minutes to allow all of the flavors to soak into the wheat berries. Serve this salad slightly warm or at room temperature!