“I can’t think about salad anymore,” she told me. “I want something warm and comforting.” I gladly accepted the tender leaves of red and green lettuce.
Now, months after – and some two feet of snow later – I often wonder if that woman is longing for a green salad. The late spring lettuce is still a long way off, so I’ve been contemplating salad of the cold weather variety. At the final farm pot luck of the season, I tasted a wheat berry salad, and I’ve been considering the possibility ever since. I loved the bite and nutty flavor. But, wheat berries – also called hard red winter wheat berries – can be tough to find in your average supermarket. I finally made a trip to Whole Foods to buy it in bulk for literally pennies.
The wheat berry is a whole-wheat kernel packed with fiber and nutrients – vitamins B6 and E, magnesium, niacin, iron and zinc. The bran and the germ contain the majority of nutrients found in the kernel. The tawny grains are soaked overnight and then simmered for an hour on the stove. If anything defines the word “toothsome” it is the wheat berry. The plump, cooked grains have a hearty, chewy taste, and “pop” nicely in the mouth.
Once cooked, it’s simple to dress the wheat berry up a variety of ways and create a hearty winter main course salad. This recipe is a rainbow of color against the monochrome of winter white and combines the sparkle of orange zest, earthy red beets, crunchy orange carrot, sweet raisins, sharp scallions and plenty of those legendary amber waves of grain. One serving has 10 grams of dietary fiber. That’s plenty of nutrition, comfort – and salad – for a chilly night.