I often write about the importance of eating whole grains, but since actions can speak louder than words, try making this healthy summer recipe with the most whole and least processed a wheat grain as could be—wheat berries.
A wheat berry is the entire wheat kernel—including the bran, germ and endosperm (for comparison, white flour is comprised only of ground endosperm). Look for them in the health food store or in the natural foods section of the supermarket (Whole Foods usually sells them in bulk, which is great!). I like the hard red wheat berries, which are very high in protein, very nutritious, and have a sweet nutty flavor and a lovely chewy texture.
The trick with the hard wheat berries is to plan ahead and soak them overnight. These grains are very hard indeed, and will require a very long cooking time if they’re not well soaked. Cooked berries keep nicely in the fridge, so I sometimes cook a few cups of wheat berries, and add them to bread, soup and other recipes over the week. My daughter loves them plain, and will fill a cereal bowl with them and eat it as a snack.
This is a very simple recipe, and a dish everyone seems to love. I’ve been asked for this recipe many times, so it’s time to post it once and for all.
1/2 cup wheat berries, soaked overnight
1 large ripe mango (can be replaced with oranges or persimmon), cut into cubes
3-4 celery stalks, with the fibery outer parts peeled and diced
10 dates, pitted and finely chopped (can be replaced by another dried fruit)
A handful of nuts, such as roasted almonds, candied pecans or walnuts
1 tablespoon of a fine sweet and interesting marmalade—I use organic Adriatic fig spread (sold at Whole Foods)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 sprig of thyme, finely chopped
• Cook the wheat berries by covering them with two inches of water, then bring them to a boil, lower the temperature to simmer, and cook until chewy—about 20-30 minutes. Drain and let cool
• Add all other salad ingredients besides nuts
• Combine dressing ingredients
• Add the nuts and dressing right before serving
Serves 6-8 as a side dish.