Are you a baker or a cook? Do you read music or improvise?
Turns out wheat berries are my new favorite ingredient – chewy and slightly nutty tasting. Why hadn’t I cooked with them before? Unlike the refined form I eat daily in breads, crackers, bagels, and cookies, wheat berries are packed with iron and protein and don’t cause digestive issues that most flours are becoming famous for.
So, David, these are the liberties I’ve taken: I doubled the wheat berry quantity to 2 cups to feed the whole family (indeed, I cook like an Italian grandmother.) Naturally I also doubled the dressing. I’ve tried it with sliced pickled onions, shredded smoked trout, a combo of mint and parsley, and crumbled goat cheese, and loved the results. I added fresh radicchio instead of cooked, and less of it, and cut my root veggies (sweets and squash) slightly smaller (1/3 inch and cooked them for 10 minutes less). I suggest not omitting the pomegranate – it gives the salad juicy pop. But if you can’t find them, you could always add some sliced kumquats or diced apples to the mix.
David probably won’t mind.
Wheat berry salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate
For the salad:
2 cups wheat berries or farro
1 bay leaf
2 to 2½ pounds root vegetables (any combination of carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips and squash), peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or mint, or combo
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 cup thinly sliced radicchio or Treviso
½ cup pickled red onions (optional)
4 ounces trout, shredded (optional)
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
Freshly squeeze lemon juice (optional)
For the dressing:
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeeze lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the wheat berries in a large saucepan and rinse them under cold running water until the water runs clear. Add enough cold water to cover by about 3 inches. Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook until the wheat berries are tender, about 45 minutes. (Less time if the wheat berries or farro have been pearled. Note: pearled grains have less fiber.)
2. Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet. Toss them with just enough olive oil to coat, season with salt and pepper, and roast, turning once or so, until tender, about 20 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper; let cool.
3. Make the dressing: in a small bowl, mix the mustard, salt, lemon juice, and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste, and season with more salt and black pepper.
4. Drain the cooked wheat berries well, season them lightly with salt, and let cool slightly. Discard the bay leaf. Transfer the wheat berries to a large bowl. Add enough dressing to coat. Season well with salt and pepper and let cool to room temperature. Fold in the cooked vegetables, parsley or mint, pomegranate seeds, and radicchio or Treviso. If you choose, add pickled red onions and shredded smoked trout, top with crumbled goat cheese or serve it on the side. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice (or dressing if you have leftover), as needed. Serve the salad at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8. Loosely adapted from “My Paris Kitchen” by David Lebovitz.