Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Orange Wheatberry Salad

Last week I promised a recipe to use your new orange segmenting skills, and here it is!

As spring comes rolling in early this year, I'm both grateful and dismayed. Grateful because I love the warmer weather, going for runs without bundling up like the kid from A Christmas Story, and because spring always feels like a time of renewal (Cheesy? Sure, but also true.) I'm dismayed because springtime also means wicked allergies.

In any case, spring also means the beginning of great produce. Farmer's markets won't start for another few months here, but produce at the grocery becomes much less expensive and more local. It's the flavors of fresh fruits and vegetables that I really associate with warm weather, and I'm always looking for that freshness. This salad brings that freshness, taking advantage of the end of citrus season to ease the transition into spring.

Wheatberries are the whole grain form of wheat - these are what is ground to produce whole wheat flour. They are sweet, chewy and nutty, with a great "pop" in the mouth. You could probably make this salad with other cooked whole grains, like farro, but I like wheatberries here.

This is a great salad to make on Sunday for weekday lunches - just portion the leftovers into individual servings in the refrigerator, and grab and go! You'll probably want to pair this with a protein to make a complete meal.

Orange Wheatberry Salad
For a step-by-step guide to segmenting oranges, see this tutorial.
Yield: 8 1-cup servings

2 cups uncooked wheat berries
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oranges
Zest and juice of one small lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
1/4 c raisins
3-4 green onions, trimmed and sliced (about a heaping 1/4 cup)

1. Cook the wheatberries. There are two methods you can use for this: stove top or slow cooker.
a. Stove top method: Soak berries in cold water for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the berries and place in a large pot. Cover by several inches of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until berries are tender and some break open, about an hour. Drain well and set aside to cool.
b. Slow cooker method: Place 2 cups of wheatberries, a pinch of salt, and 8 cups of water in the crock of a slow cooker (at least 3.5 quart size) and cover. Cook on high heat for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours until berries are tender and some break open. Drain well and set aside to cool. (Adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook.)
2. Zest oranges over a large bowl. Segment the oranges, and add the juice from the remaining membranes. Add lemon zest and juice, oil, salt and pepper and whisk to make a dressing.
3. Add cooled wheat berries and toss. Add orange segments, carrots, raisins, and green onions and toss again, or arrange for serving.

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