Nutritious Wheat Berry Salad with Orange Glazed Chicken
Have you ever had Wheat Berries? They are utterly delicious! This whole grain is nutty, chewy, has a hearty flavor and texture, slightly sweet and so nutritious.
Wheat Berries contain the entire wheat kernel (except for the hull), comprising the bran, germ, and endosperm. The germ contains natural oils that can go rancid when exposed to air, so proper storage is necessary.
Wheat Berries have a tan to reddish brown color and are available as either a hard or soft processed grain. Containing beneficial minerals such as iron and magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin E, antioxidants, and fiber. While fiber isn’t digested easily it does help with your digestion and keeps you feeling full longer which is helpful if you’re trying to lose a few pounds.
Having a diet rich in whole grains significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke in addition to reducing the risk of certain cancers and obesity while lowering cholesterol levels..
Wheat Berries are often added to salads, baked into bread to add a crunchy texture or added to stews. It’s important to plan ahead when preparing whole grains since many require hours of soaking.
Hard Red Wheat Berries require soaking 8-24 hours ahead. I covered mine with water – with about 2 inches above the grains, first thing in the morning. Two hours before dinner I drained them and placed 1 cup Wheat Berries with 2 1/2 cups water in a rice cooker. You can cook them in a crock pot, pressure cooker, on the stove top or microwave. For various cooking methods and instructions view here. I’m lazy and don’t like to stand over them so I used my rice cooker and let it do all the work.
To bring out their nutty flavor you can even toast them in a skillet prior to cooking.
I cooked 1 cup of dry Wheat Berries (that had been soaked) yielding approximately 3 cups cooked. If you’d like to make a larger batch to save for later, it would be necessary to store the cooked Wheat Berries in a jar with tight fitting lid, for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months then simply defrost in the microwave or refrigerator overnight. To reheat in the microwave place in 1/4 inch of water, cover and heat over medium-low until they are softened and warm.
Note: If you forget to soak the Wheat Berries ahead of time you can also use the quick soak method like you would with beans. Placing Wheat Berries in a pot, covered with an inch of water, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and cook as directed.
If you’re like me and only cook what you’re eating, then I recommend you store your dry Wheat Berries in a jar or container with a tight fitting lid. Store in a cool, dry pantry for up to several months. Since whole grains can go rancid, you could store them in the refrigerator but it’s not necessary
Hopefully these tips will help insure that you make perfect Wheat Berries. On to the recipe!
Back in the late 70s, Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins came out with The Silver Palate Cookbook which became a bible in everyone’s kitchen. One recipe I have used over and over again is called “Nutted Rice.” I love this recipe and so does everyone that’s ever tasted it. I’ve tweaked it numerous times but when deciding to make a Wheat Berry Salad I thought of this recipe. Of course I’ve changed most every ingredient in this but, it was the Nutted Rice recipe that inspired me to make my Wheat Berry Salad. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Besides Wheat Berries being packed with protein and nutrition I’ve added other heart healthy ingredients to this salad. I love the addition of fresh and dried fruits to my salads whenever I can, which makes them naturally sweet. If you aren’t familiar with Plum Amazins they’re diced dried plums that have 50% more fiber, 19% fewer calories amd 50% less sugars’ than raisins and cranberries AND they’re delicious! I decided to opt for these luscious little morsels to add that extra pizazz to my salad. With the addition of a fresh fruit vinaigrette and almonds it makes it next to impossible to stop eating.
Wheat Berry Salad
1 cup Wheat Berries (found at Whole Foods or Bob’s Red Mill),
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup slivered, blanched almonds
1 cup SunSweet plum Amazins
zest of 1 large orange
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
salt and pepper to taste
Soak Wheat Berries for 8-24 hours in a pot of water covering 2 inches above the grains. Drain and place in desired vessel with water, following cooking instructions. Wheat Berries should take about 1 – 1 1/2 hours to cook unless using a pressure cooker.
Transfer cooked Wheat Berries to a bowl adding the rest of the ingredients. Let stand for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavors. Serve at room temperature.
I think you’ll love this salad.
Since I’ve included so much information here I think in a couple of days I’ll go ahead and post my Orange Glazed Chicken that I made to go with this. So stay tuned.