Ah the wheat berry. Have you ever had them? I am not sure at what point they were lost to the average American, but somehow this whole grain has become virtually absent in most home kitchens. Not to say that we don't consume our fair share of wheat. This is reflected on virtually any packaged ingredient list you read. The problem lies in the fact that our adoration for the grain is for its modified, refined and processed form. Most people don't even know what the whole grain looks like.
But here is the good news: whole wheat berries are simply delicious, healthy, and packed with fiber. In fact, I would argue that enjoying whole wheat berries again is the answer to our nation-wide wheat allergy crisis. I would be willing to bet that if we all committed to consuming unprocessed organic wheat berries in place of wheat flours, additive and enhancers, the allergy would virtually disappear. So here is your first step towards health, for yourself and for your neighbors. The next step? Don't forget to spread your enthusiasm.
A quick note: wheat berries do need to be soaked before they are cooked, much like a dried bean. Not hard at all, but does require a bit of fore-thought. Just set them out to soak the night before in a large bowl with plenty of water, as they will absorb quite a bit. Drain, rinse and cook the next day. If you are like me and like to have things easily on hand, prepare a big batch and freeze the extra after cooking in 2 cup portions.
I served this with Eggplant Manicotti last night for the CSK, and the flavors play off each other perfectly. Who needs cheese and pasta to make an Italian meal when you can have this instead?
If you like this recipe and want to try the warm weather version in a few months, make sure to try my Summer Wheat Berry Salad.
Winter Wheat berry Salad
1 cup wheat berries, soaked overnight
½ head of kale, chopped
2 tbs. pomegranate molasses
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp dried rosemary, crushed
½ cup walnuts, toasted
¼ cup dried cranberries
Drain soaked wheat berries and place in a large pot with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and lower heat, simmering until tender, with a pop, about 45-60 minutes. Add chopped kale, stir, cook until wilted and drain well in a colander. When dry but slightly warm, transfer to a large bowl.
Whisk pomegranate molasses, olive oil, garlic, rosemary and salt together in a small bowl. Add to warm wheat berry/kale mixture and toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasonings. Before serving, toss in cranberries and toasted walnuts.
Relax. Eat Well.