What’s a wheat berry?
Remember that time back in 5th grade, when you entered that gum-chewing marathon, and you tried to fit a whole roll of Bubble Tape in your mouth? And remember how your jaw felt afterwards? Essentially, a wheat berry is a grain that’ll bring that same sensation, likely after one large bowl or 20 minutes of chewing.
It’s a jaw workout-and-a-half. But one that’s oh so worth it, with the right flavors piled in, and in the summertime, that’s easy.
In reality, a wheat berry is a whole wheat kernel, dressed to the nines in its bran, germ, and endosperm. I.e., whole wheat flour, before it is milled.
All these extra layers give the wheat a style best defined as “chewy”, which is one that compliments a good salad quite well. It’ll bring your lettuce leaves quite the stylish, texture-filled flair, and a bunch of protein and fiber, too. Oh, and a whole host of energizing B vitamins as well. I’ll happily chew on that.
Rather than throw a handful on top of some not fully in season lettuce leaves, I decided to create a wheat berry centered salad that celebrate some of my favorite flavors of summer — tomatoes, cukes, and herbs. There is no easier way to add robust flavor than with fresh herbs, and this recipe really packs that in.
Oregano, basil, and parsley? Move over cheese – you’re not needed in this salad. (Although, if your heart desires, I’d suggest a goat or Greek feta. Both would compliment what’s already a plentifully flavored salad.)
Feel free to play around with the combination of herbs you use, just make sure you don’t hold back on how much you throw into the bowl. Wheat berries are hardy, and can use all the loving they can get from the light flavors with which you surround them. Plus, all of the taste you add is what will make their inherent chewiness an asset. Who wouldn’t want to chew on something tasty for a few extra minutes?
Packed full of tomatoes, cucumbers and flavorful summer herbs, this healthy salad is one worth chewing on.
- 1 cup dry wheat berries, toasted
- 1 thin-skinned cucumber (or 1/2 long English cucumber), chopped
- 3/4 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 scallions/green onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley (you'll need about 3/4 of a bunch)
- 1/3 cup chopped purple basil
- 1/4 cup chopped oregano
- 2 medium lemons, zested and juiced
- 1 scant tsp. salt, plus more for wheat berries
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup almonds, chopped then toasted
- Preheat oven to to 400F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spread wheat berries on top in a single layer. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes, until slightly browned and aromatic, shaking halfway through.
- Then, transfer to a pot and add 3 cups of water plus a generous pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Let cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, remove lid, and continue to simmer 10-15 minutes, until water is absorbed and berries are chewy and no longer tough. Remove from heat, and transfer to a large bowl.
- Toss with remaining ingredients, excluding the almonds. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with toasted almonds. Serve.
Feel free to add other nuts. You can also add goat/feta cheese, however, the herbs add generous flavor!