09 August 2013

LU Wheat Berry Summer Salad

I went to a small liberal arts school for undergrad called Lawrence University (which is what started me on the path toward my career at a small liberal arts school - Earlham College). It was during undergrad that I went vegan (March of 2001). Veganism wasn't as widely accepted then, especially in Wisconsin, the cheese capitol of America. Nevertheless, Lawrence had vegetarian and vegan options at every meal, as well as things that were "accidentally" vegan, meaning that they weren't designed with vegan eaters in mind, but worked for them anyway.* One such accidentally vegan dish was this cold side salad. On the surface, it seems pretty simple as it has only three visible ingredients. However, the dressing is what absolutely makes this salad! Plus, since the flavors develop the longer it sits, you can make this a couple of days in advance and it will be even more delicious.


Before I get to recipe, maybe I should back up. It's possible that I keep saying wheat berries and you have no idea what I'm talking about. Wheat berries are the full kernel of wheat, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. They are really good for you, as they are high in protein, iron, and fiber. A quarter cup of uncooked wheat berries (about a half cup when cooked) has 150 calories, 6 grams of fiber (22% RDA), 6 grams of protein, and 8% of your daily iron intake! You can find wheat berries in natural foods stores or in a well-stocked grocery store; this is likely the brand you'll find. They can be cooked like most other grains. Plus, they have an awesome texture and a subtly nutty taste. Seriously, they're delicious.

LU Wheat Berry Salad
Ingredients
9 c. water
1 c. wheat berries
large pinch kosher salt
1/4 c. olive oil
5 T. maple syrup
3.5 T. lemon juice
3 T. soy sauce
1 T. dijon mustard
1 c. pecan pieces
1 bunch green onions, chopped

Directions
1. Boil water, salt, and wheat berries for 45 minutes to an hour. The wheat berries will nearly double in size, but should have a chew to them when they are done.
2. Combine the oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, soy sauce, and dijon mustard in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well to combine.
3. Put wheat berries, pecans, onions, and dressing in a bowl, stirring well to combine. Chill at least overnight.

Helpful Hints
  • I use extra light olive oil in every recipe at home. Shana doesn't like the taste of olive oil. I think there are enough other flavors in the dressing that regular olive oil won't be the predominant flavor. 
  • If you can find white wheat berries (as opposed to the red I used here), the pecan pieces will stand out a bit more visually. It's not necessary, but it would look nice. Wheat berries also come in in a "soft" version (also in red and white). These take less time to cook, but have a different (softer) texture. 
  • If you want to get crazy, you could add some dried cranberries or cherries to this recipe - yum!
  • Although the salad itself will not freeze well (the green onions wouldn't keep their shape or texture), you can certainly make extra wheat berries and freeze them on their own. You can add the cooked wheat berries to soups, stews, chili, breads, etc. You can even serve them with milk and cinnamon as a breakfast dish. 
  • I didn't get this recipe before I graduated, but a friend who was there for a year after me was awesome and got it for me. Thanks!!

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