Things have been extraordinarily busy with me, so there hasn’t been much posting. There should be more entries soon, with Thanksgiving next week and several holiday parties on the way. I’ve also signed up for Blogging by Mail, Holiday Edition , and am looking forward to giving (and receiving!) fun food items in the mail. In the meantime, I’ve been making simple meals: salads, pasta…stuff that can be made quickly, will feed me for a few days, and won’t require too much time in the kitchen.
I think wheat berries are really overlooked in the US, at least outside of health-food stores. These chewy little nuggets, which are whole unprocessed kernels of wheat, are a terrific source of B vitamins and fiber. They are a medium shade of brown and have a nutty flavour which is particularly welcome in winter and autumnal dishes. They are lovely in salads and stuffings, and you could even have them for breakfast- drizzle with warm milk or cream, add a bit of honey, and top with fruit. The only negative is that they do take a rather long time to cook – between an hour and an hour and a half (they don’t need to be watched, though – just set a timer and do something else for a while). Many recipes call for soaking overnight, but I’ve found that to be unnecessary as long as they’re cooked long enough and in a proper amount of water.
For each cup of wheatberries, boil them in at least 4 quarts of water, as you might for pasta. If you use too little water, they will happily soak it all up and form a burnt crust on the bottom of your saucepan, causing a horrible stench which will ruin even the unburnt top layer by smell alone. Overcooked wheat berries, on the other hand, will lose their shape and become mushy. The goal here is to retain a pleasant chew without making your jaw ache. After boiling, drain them and use as you wish. They will also keep, refrigerated, for about 5 days or may be frozen for up to 2 months and thawed in the refrigerator.
The quantities are pretty loose for this salad I made, so feel free to mix things up a bit and make it your own…
Wheat Berry Salad with Pecans and Dill
2 cups hard winter wheat berries, cooked in boiling water for 1-1.5 hours, until tender but chewy
1 small red or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove minced garlic
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
a few tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together, adjusting amounts to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature. This will serve about 4-6 as a side dish.