Asparagus Wheatberry Salad

Asparagus Wheatberry Salad

I love wheatberries in a salad. They have a toothsome quality that makes a salad substantial and filling. They take a while to cook, but they are cheap, far cheaper than farro, and add a delicious nuttiness to any salad.

To make wheatberries, put one cup of wheatberries in a sauce pan, add 3 cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and put the lid on the pan. Check back after 30 minutes and then keep checking until they are chewy. It can take up to 50 minutes or so, depending on the specific kind of wheat. Some people like toasting the wheatberries for 10 to 15 minutes in a medium oven (350°) before boiling them to make them more aromatic and nuttier. I am usually too impatient and don’t think it makes a big enough flavor difference.

After the wheatberries are tender, drain in a colander, run cold water over them and let them drain until they are dry and cool. You can store in the fridge if you like.

To make the salad,

Bias cut eight asparagus stalks into 1 inch long pieces. This exposes more of the tender interior so they absorb vinegar dressing.  Add to the wheatberries along with 1/4 cup of dried cranberries. Add 2 TBSP of balsamic vinegar. (You can add more if you like.)Shake, cover, and store in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

This is a tangy salad with plenty of crunch from the asparagus and a tart sweetness from the cranberries. All three ingredients love balsamic vinegar.

I used to attend a board meeting six hours away and to save money, lunch was always potluck. I used to open a bag of frozen asparagus, toss in a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and by the time we got there, it was thawed and marinated. Yum! People always asked how I managed to make such delicious asparagus, hah! Vinegar “cooks” veggies so well.

I made two salads with wheatberries today. I just doubled the wheatberry part and divided the cooled wheatberries when they were ready. I figure if I am going to make something that takes nearly an hour, I will make the most of it.

Wheatberry Salad Duo

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Rutabaga Wheatberry Salad with Lemon, Caraway, and Maple Dressing

Rutabaga Wheatberry Salad

I got a big bag of huge rutabagas from Harvest Share. Just so you know, in England, they call rutabagas swedes, and this Swedish-American can remember stopping at a roadside vegetable stand on the way to my uncle’s house in the fall and Dad buying some rutabagas, peeling them and cutting them into chunks, and we would eat them raw, the way some people eat apples. I have always loved rutabaga and think it might be in my genes.

Still, I wanted to create something new. I was thinking about Dad and how very Swedish they are and thought it might be interesting to use caraway which anyone who has tasted aquavit knows can be a fabulous, vibrant flavor that Swedes love. This made me think of caraway cake and how much I like adding lemon zest for a brighter flavor and from this came this new recipe, a lemon, caraway, and maple dressing that is a revelation.

Start by making the wheatberries since they take the longest time and must cool before you make the salad.

To make wheatberries, put one cup of wheatberries in a sauce pan, add 3 cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and put the lid on the pan. Check back after 30 minutes and then keep checking until they are chewy. It can take up to 50 minutes or so, depending on the specific kind of wheat. Some people like toasting the wheatberries for 10 to 15 minutes in a medium oven (350°) before boiling them to make them more aromatic and nuttier. I am usually too impatient and don’t think it makes a big enough flavor difference.

After the wheatberries are tender, drain in a colander, run cold water over them and let them drain until they are dry and cool. You can store in the fridge if you like.

Prepare the vegetables.

Meanwhile, peel and dice one large rutabaga into 1/2 square pieces. Rutabaga is kind of tough, so I cut 1/2 inch slices, stack them and slice into 1/2 wide sticks, and then cut the sticks. Should be about 2 cups.

Peel and dice 1 cup of carrots

Spread on a flat cookie sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 450°. Check after 10 minutes because you want them just tender enough without changing color or becoming soft. This is a crunchy salad, not a tender one.

Peel and dice one medium yellow onion. Don’t bake the onion!

Prepare the dressing.

Heat a small pan over medium heat. Add two teaspoons of caraway seed and toast until the aroma permeates the air. Add 1 TBSP of olive oil and continue to heat for about a minute, so the caraway flavors the oil. Squeeze the juice of one small lemon, stir and add 2 TBSP of maple syrup and 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. Remove from heat, add the zest of the lemon.

Mix everything together.

Add the onions, baked rutabaga and carrot chunks to the wheatberries, stir together and pour the dressing over the salad. Put a lid on the container and shake, distributing the dressing. Store in the fridge for at least two hours before serving.

So this is delicious. The maple-caraway-lemon dressing is everything and goes so well with the rutabaga. There is a brightness to the salad and the caraway has a homey, familiar flavor.

I actually doubled the wheatberry recipe in order to make two salads because anything that takes up to 50 minutes to cook on the stove is a big time investment in my opinion, so I want to make it worth it.

Wheatberry Salad Duo

 

Vegan Wheatberry Salad for Potluck

Vegan Wheatberry Salad

This makes a potluck-sized batch of Wheatberry Salad. It’s very similar to the salad I have made before, but I didn’t have all the same ingredients. The thing is, the basics of wheatberries, chopped onions, cilantro, lime, cayenne and olive oil can serve as a base for a salad with all sorts of different vegetables, though I would not choose soft veggies.

Start with the wheatberries. Rinse 2 cups off in cold water and put in a skillet with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, put the lid on and let simmer about an hour until it’s cooked. It will still be toothsome, but tender. Put in a colander, rinse in cold water, rest inside a bowl and let stand in the fridge overnight so all the water drains away and it gets a little dry.

Next day dice and chop up a bunch of veggies. In this iteration, 1 whole yellow onion (about two cups), 1 cup of cilantro (or more), 4 carrots, 4 celery stalks, 2 zucchinis and 2 tomatoes. Finely dice a jalapeño. Mix all in a bowl. Squeeze 4 limes (Yeah, I know, I had limes but no red peppers!) and add about 1.5 to 2 tbsps of olive oil. Add 1 to 1.5 tsps of cayenne. This totally depends on how much heat your want. I wanted heat, so I added 1.5. Stir together, adding salt and pepper to taste. This will be a bit over-spiced, but you can taste the profile. It’s just easier to mix and blend evenly before you add the wheatberries.

Finally, add the wheatberries and stir. Cover and let marinate at least 2 hours before serving.

Torsk & Vegan Wheatberry Salad

Vegan Wheatberry Salad & Sauteed Cod

Add 1 cup of wheatberries and a tsp of salt to 2 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil, reduce to a low simmer, cover and let cook for an hour. Check to make sure it doesn’t burn, adding more water if necessary. Strain and rinse in cold water and set aside.

In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup of chopped onions with 1 red pepper, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 serrano chili and 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped. Squeeze the juice of 1 fresh lime and add 2 to 3 TBSP of olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the wheatberries and refrigerate until it’s time to serve. This makes 4 servings – but only gets better the second day.

I get frozen Alaskan cod from Schwann’s because it’s easy, convenient and delicious and it’s as close as someone in Portland can get to torsk (Arctic cod). If you live in Minnesota or North Dakota, you can probably get torsk more easily. I thawed the fillet, added 1/2 tbsp of butter to a saute pan, tossed in the cod and sprinkled salt, pepper, dill weed and paprika on it and let it cook lighting on one side for 3 minutes, turned to cook another minute on the other side and then plated. I added a large serving of the wheatberry salad on the side.

The torsk was, as always, light and flaky. The paprika gives it a nice smokiness and the dill adds a bit of freshness. The salad was crunchy and fresh with plenty of heat from the serrano and a bright tang from the limes. I love the flavor of lime and chili together and this salad was a great medium for those flavors.

Arctic Cod Zucchini Packets with Wheatberry Salad and a Veggie Hash

Zucchini Wrapped Cod with Wheatberry Salad & Tomato-Zucchini Hash

This was super simple. First I sliced a zucchini vertically, giving myself long thin slices. I laid three down on the counter and placed one fillet of cod in the middle. I sprinkled it with salt, pepper and dill weed and then folded the strips up and around. I placed the packet with the open side down on some already heated olive oil to saute. I cooked at a low medium so that the fish did not cook too quickly and the zucchini browned nicely. I turned carefully and cooked on the other side.

I then chopped the rest of the zucchini, a quarter onion and a tomato. In another pan, I sauteed the onions before adding the zucchini and tomato, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder and let them cook. As soon as it was done, I put some grated parmesan cheese on top and stirred it in. I plated it with some microwave-warmed wheatberry salad, sprinkling a bit of balsamic vinegar on top. I then put the cod packet on the plate with the closed side up.

The flavors blended well with the savory wheatberry a nice contrast to the light and slightly tart zucchini/tomato hash and the subtle freshness of the cod and zucchini. The zucchini was nicely browned and added just the touch of toastiness while keeping the cod moist and perfectly tender.

Savory Wheatberry Salad

Savory Wheatberry Salad

Although a relatively easy salad, it does produce a bunch of dirty dishes thanks to preparing the elements separately in order to give them different flavor profiles.

I started by putting 2 cups of wheatberries in a pot and covering it with about double its depth in water. After it came to a boil, I turned it down to a low rolling boil. It needs about an hour of cooking to be done. You want it to be a bit toothy or al dente.

I cut up a small pumpkin, cleaning out the seeds and setting them aside to roast for salads. I put the pieces in a pot with water and let it boil until done. I tossed in a couple crushed cardamom pods to flavor the pumpkin. After it was done, I rinsed with cold water so I could easily remove the skin and chop into 1/2 inch pieces.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, I put a TBSP of olive oil on to heat. I added about 1 tbsp dried sage, 1/2 sweet onion diced, salt and pepper. After the onions were softened, but not caramelized, I added 8 diced mushrooms and sauteed.

By then the wheatberries were done and I strained them. I then added the cardamom flavored pumpkin and the sage flavored mushrooms. I then tossed in a handful of dried cranberries.

To dress, I mixed up a bit of mustard, a dash of sriracha and some baldamic vinegar. A bit of salt and pepper to taste and served.

It’s a warm salad, though it tastes good cold as well. The cardamom and sage flavors come as separate note, underscored by the tang from dried cranberries and balsamic – and a bit of heat with mustard and sriracha. It was delicious and a great addition to Christmas dinner.