Sometimes the stars align just so and you wind up with a healthy and delicious salad in front of you. What, never happened to you? Ok, well stars align for all kinds of reasons. There were two things that happened in weirdly close proximity to get me to make this dish. First--my junior high schoolers made recipes with wheat berries in their Health and Nutrition classes. Then---Wouldn't you know it, a recipe featuring wheat berries popped up in the Good Eating section of the Chicago Tribune. After not really thinking about these little gems much at all, really, I was awash in wheat berry tasting and discussion.
I like to use hard Red Spring wheat berries for their nutty taste and chewy texture, but you can use the soft variety as well. I also added some pomegranate seeds for an additional taste and texture that pairs well with the blood oranges and feta cheese. The vinaigrette makes more than you will need, but trust me and make the whole batch. You'll find yourself dipping a piece of crusty bread into it-- it's that good. It is an excellent side salad to serve with roast chicken or fish and it is also very tasty on its own for a light lunch or dinner over a bed of baby arugula.
Wheat Berry Salad with Blood Oranges, Feta, and Red Onion Vinaigrette
serves 2 as a main dish and 4 as a side salad
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup Red Spring Wheat Berries ( I use Bob's Mill Organic)
2 blood oranges, rind removed and cut into segments (supremes) and then each segment cut in half
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cut into a small dice
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 Tablespoons Red Onion Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
In a medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the wheat berries. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until tender, about 1 hour. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Add 6 tablespoons of the vinaigrette to the warm wheat berries. Add the orange pieces, feta, pomegranates, and parsley. Toss to combine. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve as a side to a main dish or as a salad on a bed of arugula. Enjoy!
Red Onion Vinaigrette
makes about 2 cups
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion slices; season with salt and pepper and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté for another 2 minutes until fragrant. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender. Add the vinegars and sugar to the onion mixture and carefully (the mixture is hot) blend until smooth. With the motor running, add the 1/2 cup of olive oil in a steady stream and blend until smooth and emulsified.
Source: Adapted from the Chicago Tribune; Good Eating, January 30, 2013