This is my go-to summer salad because it is easy, healthy and super flexible. And by super-flexible, I mean that I can usually pull off making it without an extra trip to the grocery store. I often find myself emptying out lots of odds and ends of vegetables or cheese into this salad. And it always turns out great. I think the secret is in the salad dressing.
A Bit About Wheat Berries
Wheat berries are the unprocessed wheat kernel which includes the bran, endosperm and germ. They are most often milled to make flour, but in this recipe we are going to cook and use the whole wheat berries. If you are a person such as I who mills their own flour, then you most likely already have wheat berries around the pantry. For the rest of you, you will need to search out wheat berries or another whole grain at the grocery store. The wheat berries can be substituted in this recipe with farro, spelt, kamut, or barley. If your grocery store carries Bobs Red Mill Grains or if they have a bulk food section, you will find one of these grains in those sections.
Step one is cooking up your wheat berries. I use my pressure cooker to cook the wheat berries for about 35 minutes. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, they can be cooked on the stovetop for about 60 minutes. Either way, I usually plan for about an hour of cooking time for the wheat berries before assembling the salad.
About the Dressing
I use my favorite homemade vinaigrette, Green Herby Dressing, to make this salad. This dressing is pretty simple and only uses olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic and fresh herbs. You can assemble the dressing as the wheat berries are cooking.
If Green Herby Dressing isn’t happening for you, you can substitute it with a fresh pesto.
About the Rest of the Salad
Once you have the wheat berries and the dressing figured out, the rest of the salad is pretty flexible. I like to add:
- lots of fresh veggies such as chopped cucumbers, snap peas, fava beans, celery, sliced fennel, and sliced onion.
- chopped greens such as spinach, radicchio, or kale,
- a handful of dried fruit such as dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, or blueberries,
- a bit of cheese such as feta, goat cheese
The wheat berries on their own can be a bit heavy, so I usually add enough veggies and greens to lighten the salad up quite a bit.
Wheat Berry Salad
- 1 cup of wheat berries or other whole grain such as farro, Kamut, spelt or barley
- 4 cups of water
- Green Herby Dressing or a 1/2 cup of pesto
- 4 cups of chopped greens such as kale, spinach or radicchio
- 2 cups of fresh vegetables such as snap peas, celery, sliced fennel, cucumber
- 1 cup of dried fruit such as cherries, blueberries, or raisins
- 1/2 cup of crumbly cheese such as goat cheese, feta, or blue cheese
- Cook the wheat berries in four cups of water. If using a pressure cooker, cook 35 minutes on high pressure with a 10 minute natural release. If using a stovetop, simmer covered for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the wheat berries are cooking, prepare the Green Herby dressing or pesto. Prepare the vegetables and greens by chopping into bite size pieces.
- Once the wheat berries are done cooking, drain the extra liquid off and place the wheat berries into a large bowl. Toss the warm wheat berries with the dressing. Add the kale and any hardy veggies while the berries are warm.
- Toss the cheese into the salad before serving.
- This salad can be served at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator.