I've been terrible about blogging this week. Every day I think, at some point, "Oh, I'll write a blog post today!" and it hasn't happened yet. This may be because Mike brought his Wii over to my house and I've been playing Zelda, or possibly because it's been so hot that I didn't want to do anything but complain about how hot it is. It's been pushing 90 all week, even in the middle of the night, and I don't enjoy this kind of weather. (I also hate cold weather. Hooray.)
I was going to write a bit about what wheatberries are, but when I went to Foodista to find a widget to put on the bottom of this post, I found that they didn't have a page about wheatberries (and therefore no widget) and I had to write one myself. So, if you're curious, click on the foodista widget at the bottom of this page to see what I wrote up over there. The cool thing is that if I'm wrong about something, or know something you don't, you can edit it! It's kind of like a wikipedia for foodies, which is awesome, except people can freely edit recipes other people post and I'm not sure how I'd feel about that.
Anyway, wheatberries make awesome salads. I first discovered them when a little bakery/cafe down the street from my house (literally a 5 minute walk) carried a wheatberry salad. Mike and I used to buy it whenever we were there as a side for whatever else we ate. Unfortunately, this little shop closed down and I can no longer buy wheatberry salad there--so I learned to make it! The last day I went there, I asked the guy who worked there what goes into the salad, and he listed a whole bunch of things, and I tried to commit them to memory so I could replicate it at home. This is what I ended up with. I'm not including amounts, because you might say "I don't really like a lot of uncooked red onion" or "hmm I want a LOT of carrots!" and also because I didn't measure amounts. I feel that, ideally, you want to end up with about the same volume of vegetables as you have of wheatberries.
Oh, the important things about wheatberries: the hardest part is finding them, but if you're fortunate enough to have a Whole Foods nearby they sell them in bulk for under two dollars per pound. They triple in volume after they're cooked, so don't cook too many at once unless you want a ton of extra wheatberries (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as you'll see next time I post which will hopefully be soon). Lastly, you have to soak them overnight before cooking them, so if you want to make this, plan ahead!
RECIPE: Wheatberry Salad
-Extra virgin olive oil
**NOTE: Everything (except the wheatberries and dressing) is optional!**
To cook the wheatberries:
Soak the wheatberries overnight in a lot of water. Drain and rinse them. You'll need a fine mesh colander for this--if it's got bigger holes, you'll lose some, or they'll plug the holes and you'll never get the water out. The next day, as early as possible, boil them. You'll need a very large pot to do this--everything I could find said to cook them in a 4 cups water to 1 cup wheatberries ratio. (I'm not sure how important that is, since they didn't absorb nearly that much water, but when I'm given a specific ratio I stick to it.) Boil them for about an hour, until you can eat one and it has a fresh pop on the outside and a soft creamy rice-like texture inside. Let them cool and refrigerate them. If you didn't give yourself a lot of time, you can chill them quickly by running cool water over them. I strained the wheatberries out of the pot, put them back in the pot, filled with cold water, strained again, etc, for about four changes of water before they were cool enough to stick in the fridge for a while.
To make the salad:
Chop all the vegetables into really small pieces--no bigger than your pinkie nail. Add them, and the craisins, to the wheatberries. Mix until thoroughly combined. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the salad and mix again. Serve immediately, or chill. The salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. And it's delicious.
Wheatberries. Don't they kinda look like popcorn kernels? I highly recommend that, before making the salad, you eat a small handful on their own--they have some excellent flavor by themselves.
Salad! Serve it with some grilled meat, or bring it to a party, or just eat it on its own. You may notice a lack of craisins in here--I completely forgot them, and I wish I hadn't, but Mike doesn't like them all that much and was thrilled. See? Everything is optional.
There are a lot of ways to make wheatberry salad, and you could probably add pretty much whatever you want and it would taste good. But this is really excellent and I urge you to try it out if you can find wheatberries anywhere--it's really simple, super cheap, and you can make a big batch and have lunch for a week!
I seem to be developing an affinity for summer salads. Though most of them are good any time of year, the vegetables are usually fresher around now, and I love having a cold meal that's filling and nutritious, especially when you don't have to cook anything (which this can be, if you keep cooked wheatberries around. I'm tempted to.) Do you have a favorite summer salad? I'd love to hear about it!