Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Wheat Berry Salad

I hate to start off with an apology, but I do feel a bit neglectful not having written in so long. We had a long and wonderful journey home, filled with loads of camping, climbing, marathon driving, one-pot meals and beautiful sunsets. It was the kind of trip that you look back on with a smile, as you sip your hot coffee and appreciate your clean feet. But we are back, and excited for the next chapter in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont.

I always like to bring a dish when invited to a gathering, especially when I know the majority of the people there aren't so plant-based. It is a fun way to share my style of eating, and guarantees I will have something to enjoy without the hosts having to worry about accommodating my diet. This week we have been eating with family quite a bit, and this was the dish I brought for Gregg's mom's birthday celebration.

It was inspired by the golden wheat berries I found at Waitsfield's farmers market on Saturday, as well as the flavors of my mother's herb and vegetable garden I have been pillaging since being home. It involves both a fresh basil pesto as well as a quick balsamic vinaigrette, which soak into the wheat berries nicely for a flavorful bite. I enjoy the pop that comes with each mouthful of wheat berry, but you could substitute another grain as well, such as farro, spelt or an interesting wild rice mixture for a gluten free option. All provide ample fiber as they are unprocessed whole grains containing both the bran and germ. This salad will leave you satisfied if enjoyed as the main course with a leafy green salad, or as a side dish to anything off of the grill.

Summer Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 6 as a main course or 12 as a side dish


2 cups wheat berries

2 cups basil leaves

½ bunch kale, blanched (optional)

2 tbs. olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup raw walnuts

1 tbs. lemon juice

1 tbs. nutritional yeast

1/8 tsp salt

3 tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 tbs. olive oil

½ tsp. honey

Salt to taste

freshly ground pepper

½ cup currants

2 tbs. pine nuts, toasted (optional)

2 summer squash

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved


If possible, soak the wheat berries in enough water to cover overnight. Rinse, drain and place in a medium saucepan covered with water or stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are soft but maintain a pop. If unsoaked, increase cooking time to 90 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

To prepare pesto, add basil leaves, kale (if using), olive oil, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt and a few grinds of black pepper to a food processor and pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil with the balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper.

Place cooked wheat berries in a large bowl. Add currants, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. Using a peeler, slice the summer squash into ribbons and run your knife through them several times to make bite size pieces. Add to the bowl with the small bowl of balsamic dressing and toss to coat. Add half the pesto, toss and taste. Continue to add pesto until you reach your desired flavor. Season to taste.

*This salad can be served immediately, or made earlier in the day and refrigerated until serving. The wheat berries do tend to absorb the dressing nicely with a little time to rest and marry together.

Relax. Eat Well.


  1. Lovely recipe! Best to you back in your neck of the woods. Santa Cruz will miss your energy and food!

  2. Thanks Linnea!!! I am sure you are supplying SC with yummy kitchen creations for the both of us! Miss you!