If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know that Desiree and I were lucky enough to buy into Urban Grains CSA earlier this year. We picked up our share of gorgeous red and white wheat berries and flour in October. We were both super excited to get cooking with our wheat berries. In December, we shared a friend’s holiday tradition for kutya, a deliciously simple dish made with cooked wheat berries, honey, poppy seeds and walnuts. Since then, I’ve been creating delightful salads with my share of wheat berries. One of my favourite ways to energize my afternoon is with a colourful nutrient rich lunch salad that’s filling, satisfying and tasty. And don’t worry, we’ll be sharing some of these scrumptious salads. But first, here is the inside scoop on the great health benefits of wheat berries.
Although wheat is the most popular grain in North America, very few people have enjoyed wheat berries. The wheat berry is the whole, unprocessed wheat kernel that contains all three parts of the grain: the nutritious germ and bran, and the endosperm. This means that wheat berries offer exceptional nutritional value. They are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals like selenium, magnesium and ironand low in calories. Wheat berries also contain phytochemicals like lignans and phytosterols to help protect against disease. Eating more whole grains like wheat berries is helpful in reducing your risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Due to their high fibre content, wheat berries can also help with weight loss and management.
Wheat berries have a nice chewy texture and nutty flavour. You can easily replace them for rice, barley, quinoa or other grains in recipes. Wheat berries do take a little bit more time to cook, about 45 minutes. So when you go to the effort of cooking wheat berries, make double the amount and freeze the extra cooked wheat berries to use later for a quick meal. We like to store our dry wheat berries in the fridge or freezer to extend their shelf life. They can also be store in a cool dry place.
1 cup wheat berries
2 1/2 cups water
1 medium yam, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 cups spinach
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Dijonmustard
1 1/2 tsp honey
Bring wheat berries and water to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Drain away excess water and spread cooked wheat berries onto a baking sheet to cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss yams with a little bit of oil, spread out on a baking sheet or baking pan and roast until just tender, about 20 minutes.
To make the dressing, whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If you’re serving this salad right away, toss all ingredients together, drizzle with dressing and toss again. If you’re planning to enjoy this salad as your lunch throughout the week, toss all ingredients except dressing together and store in the refrigerator. Pack along dressing separately in your lunch and toss just before eating.
Chickpeas make a super delicious addition to this salad. It’s also a great way to add protein and extra fibre. Add 2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can (19oz/540mL) of chickpeas, drained to this recipe.