Most of us who grew up in Western countries have a love affair with wheat. We eat it without thinking, disguised as it is in bread, pasta and myriad other tasty but not always nutritious treats. We forget that wheat, like brown rice, can be eaten as a whole grain. And we know that keeping grains more intact slows oxidation and preserves their fiber and nutritional profile. For culinary purposes, we call the unbroken, hulled whole wheat kernels “wheat berries.” My friend Adele devised this salad some years ago when she cooked at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, and she’s been making it to rave reviews ever since. One secret of this salad’s success is its vibrant orange flavor–use orange juice concentrate straight from the pack. You should be able to find wheat berries, hopefully in bulk, wherever natural foods are sold. To cook, rinse the wheat berries, place in a roomy pot, cover with about two inches of water, bring just to a boil and simmer 45 minutes. Taste, and cook only until al dente–they should be tender, but still retain a subtle crunch. Drain thoroughly, and dress this salad while the wheat berries are still warm. Cool an hour or more, giving the berries time to absorb the dressing. Adele’s super easy recipe is after the jump.
ADELE’S WHEAT BERRY SALAD WITH ORANGE DRESSING
For the salad:
1 1/2 cups wheat berries (or for variety, use hulled whole grain barley)
1/2 cup dried apricots or cranberries, chopped, or raisins
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped green or red onion
Quantities of ingredients can be adjusted to taste.
Cover wheat berries with two inches of water. Boil till just tender – about 45 minutes, drain well.
For the dressing:
Small can of undiluted orange juice concentrate
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
medium bunch cilantro (set aside a few sprigs of cilantro for the garnish)
optional salt and pepper to taste
Combine dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust ginger and garlic to taste.
Combine all ingredients in a salad bowl. Dress and toss well ahead of meal time, allowing everything to marinate. You may not need all the dressing. Garnish the salad with reserved cilantro at the last minute.