Next up in my experimentation with whole grains: wheat-berry. I’ve had it a few times in some of the prepared salads at Whole Foods and have been eager to work with it. Then, Christie and I were discussing the menu for Carlie’s second birthday party next month, and she asked if I had any wheat-berry recipes. Hmmm… I found this one on Epicurious.com this morning and since it got great user reviews, and I already had many of the ingredients, I decided to try it tonight. I read through all of the user comments, one of my favorite parts of Epicurious, and then made a few tweaks to the recipe. I was pretty liberal with the dill and mint, using more than 1/4 cup. I cut the olive oil back to three tbsp rather than five, used scallions instead of red onion, and also added some walnuts. This is a fantastic summer salad. Wheat-berry has a great texture—Johnny described it as “little bursts”— and the feta, dill, cucumbers and olives give it a Greek salad taste. You can find wheat-berry in the same aisle as rice and other whole grains at the supermarket. I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Whole Grain Wheat.
I had planned to serve this with baked chicken cutlets, but when I opened the package of chicken, it had a weird smell and felt really slimey. Never fun, especially when you don’t have a backup protein. Luckily, we have Cafe Rakka, a great Middle Eastern take out restaurant, down the block. I ran over there and picked up chicken kebobs, falafel, hummus and moussaka to go with the wheat-berry salad. The meal was saved and clean up was easy. Win win.
Feta Wheat-Berry Salad
1 cup wheat, spelt, or rye berries (available at natural foods stores)
1/2 cup diced feta (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup julienne strips of seedless cucumber
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup julienne strips of drained bottled roasted red pepper
1/4 cup mixed minced fresh herbs such as parsley, mint, and dill plus herb sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped pitted brine-cured black olives
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
Dried hot red pepper flakes to taste
In a kettle of boiling salted water cook the wheat berries for 1 hour, or until they are tender, and drain them. In a large bowl stir together the wheat berries, the feta, the onion, the cucumber, the oil, the roasted pepper, the minced herbs, the lemon juice, the vinegar, the olives, the cumin, the garlic, the red pepper flakes, and salt to taste and garnish the salad with the herb sprigs.