We ended up with a simple salad full of lots of flavor. This is the time to pull out the best olive oil & balsamic you have because their flavor really matters here. I pulled out the 10 year-old balsamic from Zingerman's which is like eating candy, yum. Roasting the vegetables really brings out their sweetness, especially the onions. That sweetness combined with the balsamic plays beautifully with the nutty wheat berries. Then top it all with fresh thyme & salty feta for a perfect side dish.
Last time I cooked wheat berries it was quite time consuming & really heated up my kitchen with the soaking overnight & 1 1/2 hours of simmering on the stove. I decided to see if they could be cooked in the rice cooker. I googled around & found instructions from various places for just that. It worked perfectly giving us wheat berries with exactly the right texture in much less time (& with a lot less heat in the kitchen). I liked the step of toasting them before cooking, I think it gave them a slightly more nutty flavor.
Wheat Berry & Beet Salad
(I did the hot part of this salad in the morning while my kitchen was still cool then let in chill in the fridge until dinner time)
1 c dry wheat berries
1 1/2- 2 c bite-sized beet pieces
1 large onion, cut into large pieces (about 2 cups)
3 T olive oil + extra for roasting the vegetables
1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
1 t fresh thyme
1/4 c feta
Toast the wheat berries on a hot skillet until they they get fragrant being careful not to let them burn, you might hear some popping. Put them into your rice cooker & cover with hot water. Let sit for one hour. Drain. Put the soaked berries & 2 cup of water into the rice cooker. After the rice cooker has finished the cooking cycle let the berries sit in it for 15 more minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 F.
Put the beets & onions in a roasting pan & coat with a little olive oil. (I put the onions in a small tin foil tray in the pan to keep them away from the beets so they don't turn pink.) Roast for about 30 - 40 minutes until tender & the onions are just starting to brown.
Mix the roasted vegetables in with the cooked wheat berries. Let cool.
Whisk the olive oil & balsamic together. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Mix the dressing into the salad (I like to mix in a little at a time so as not to overdress it.) Stir in the thyme & feta. Chill.
4 - 5 servings
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