A few years ago my mom introduced me to wheat berries. This was a bit of a switch since I am usually the one pushing out of the ordinary ingredients like quinoa, fish sauce, kale, and tahini. When I mention these things I usually get crickets but she always ends up on the bandwagon. I think she trusts me now, she knows I won’t lead her astray. Anyway, she had a wheat berry salad at a friend’s house and made it for me and I was hooked.
Wheat berries are super nutritious and delicious. They are a complete grain which means they have the germ, endosperm, and bran. I am not totally certain why that is a good thing, but it is. They are also high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are especially high in B vitamins. Convinced?
I love the texture of wheat berries. After cooked for about an hour they are chewy but still have a good bite to them. They are great in soups, salads, stews, etc. This recipe combines the berries with chicken (I used rotisserie from the grocery store), vegetables, herbs, goat cheese, trail mix, and a fresh orange vinaigrette. It is great as a main course or as a side to something off the grill. The salad is also fabulous leftover, the berries just soak up the vinaigrette.
The trail mix may sound a little strange but I wanted to add some dried fruit and nuts and instead of buying prepackaged stuff I decided to get what I needed from the bulk bins at my grocery store. That way I could get the exact amount I needed and save a lot of money. I used a trail mix that was a combo of nuts, sunflower seeds, and dried fruit. I also added a scoop of just dried fruit that included cranberries, raisins, and cherries. Many stores also have the wheat berries in bulk bins if you want to go that route. I can’t wait to make this one again! I think it will be a staple this summer.
Trail Mix Wheat Berry Salad with Chicken, Goat Cheese, and Orange VinaigretteLindsay at Perfecting the Pairing
· 2 cups wheat berries
· 1 tsp salt
· 7 cups water
· 2 celery stalks, chopped
· 6 green onions, chopped
· ½ cup trail mix (mixture of nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, etc.)
· ½ cup dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, raisins, golden raisins, etc.)
· ½ cup chopped parsley
· 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
· 1 Tb Dijon mustard
· 1 Tb honey
· Zest and juice of one orange (about ¼ cup)
· ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
· ¼ cup olive oil
· 1 shallot, chopped
· Salt and pepper
· 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Place the wheat berries in a large pot and cover with water, swirl around and pour off the water. Repeat to double rinse. Add the teaspoon of salt and seven cups cool water to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for about one hour. The berries should be chewy but not hard. Drain into a large bowl, and allow the berries to cool.
Stir in the celery, green onions, trail mix, dried fruit, parsley, and chicken. In a small bowl add the Dijon mustard, honey, zest, juice, vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk until emulsified. Stir in the chopped shallot and season with salt and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the berries and stir with a spatula to coat. Top with crumbled goat cheese.