Monday, April 04, 2011

Amber Waves of Grain

Late last fall as I was picking up my share of vegetables at Restoration Farm, I was pleasantly surprised to see some autumn lettuce had become available. Another member was picking up her share and offered me two heads of lettuce.

“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.

©2011 T.W. Barritt all Rights Reserved

9 comments:

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

The color is completely seductive, and I can't imagine the taste is any less so. I am utterly ready for salad after a long winter of stews.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I've never seen wheat berries, so they are on my list for my next trip to Whole Foods. As you know, I love color in salads and this certainly fits the bill. And yep, I bet that lady is sorry she gave away her lettuce now.
Sam

Julia said...

Oh how I know that feeling -- sick of greens, but know that I will sorely miss them after a long winter. That's one of the best things about seasonal eating -- really appreciating the first bites of each season.

That wheatberry salad does look delicious! I have some farro (which I bought when I couldn't barley, go figure.)

Mary said...

Picture perfect. I love the color of your salad and that you are introducing underutilized and inexpensive grains. This really looks wonderful. I suspect it tastes good as well. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Helene said...

I have to play more with different grains. Nice colors.

lostpastremembered said...

DO you ever look at something and ask yourself why don't I have this more often... like wheat berries??? They are great for you, they taste amazing... what's not to love? The beets and carrots sound delish with those berries... spring will be here soon, RIGHT>????

~~louise~~ said...

I've never had a "proper" introduction to wheat berries, T.W. until now.

Your salad sure looks tempting and indeed a wonderful transition dish to what lies ahead this season.

Thank you so much for sharing...

Barbara said...

I'm loving all these grains and little known pastas I've been introduced to since I started blogging. Wheatberries, Farro, Israeli couscous, fregola...the list goes on and on. Whole Foods has 'em all. Just standing in their grain aisle is a learning experience.
Your salad combines the best: beets, orange, carrots and raisins. Perfect combo. Super recipe, J.G.!

tasteofbeirut said...

I buy wheat berries at the middle-eastern store; Lebanese make it into salad, a pudding (for New Year) and a stew cooked to death with goat meat or chicken. Like your salad because I like to eat red things!