The sun is out, and it feels like spring! We had another bizarre day of snow on Sunday, so sunny warmth is all the more invigorating. I made beef burgundy on Sunday as a last hurrah of the season, but as soon as the sun peaked out yesterday morning, I knew I was going to make a salad.
I have a bevy of grains, purchased in bulk form various trips to the local health food stores here in town, as well as Central Market, and Whole Foods, so opting for a grain salad was a natural. I've been tossing grains into soups and stews all winter; I was long overdue for grain salad.
I had been reading the March issue of Martha Stewart Living, and while the recipes as a whole in the issue were a bit "meh," a wheat berry salad caught my eye. I love the chewy texture of whole wheat berries, and the slightly sweet, earthy flavor. Martha (i.e., Martha's staff) studded the salad with dates, celery, and walnuts; while that sounded delicious, I opted for what I had on hand.
In particular, I had some gorgeous purple baby kohlrabi from Central Market.
If you are new to kohlrabi, snap some up next time you spy some at the grocery store or farmers market for a first try. It's easy to spot: the bulbs look like Soviet-era satellites. Kohlrabi is related to brussels sprouts (the brassica family of vegetables), but is far more mild--think apple-radish and tender raw broccoli stems all in one. Wait, that sounds weird. But have faith, it's really good! I like it best raw, chopped or in matchsticks for salads, or grated into slaw. You can also lightly steam it.
Wheat Berry Salad with Kohlrabi, Apples, & Sunflower Seeds
You can use almost any grain in this salad based on what you have on hand, or what you prefer. Think bulgur, pearl barley, spelt, oat groats, and millet. For gluten free diets, use kasha (toasted buckwheat groats) or brown rice or millet. If kohlrabi is unavailable, try jicama or celery for a similar slightly-weet, fresh crunch.
1 cup wheat berries (soaked at least 4 hours or overnight, drained)
grated zest of 1 orange
juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp agave nectar or honey (use the agave for vegan diets)
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup chopped or matchstick cut kohlrabi (see other options in my headnotes)
1 medium tart-sweet apple (e.g. Braeburn, Gala)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/3 cup toasted, lightly salted sunflower seeds
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Place wheat berries in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 35-40 minutes until plumped and tender. Drain.
Whisk the orange zest orange juice, olive oil, lemon juice, honey (or agave), and salt in a large bowl. Add the wheat berries, kohlrabi, apple, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and parsely. Toss to combine and season with salt & pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.
Note: Wheatberries--whole, unprocessed wheat kernels--are available at any health-food store or in the health food or bulk sections of many grocery stores. They need tobe soaked for a few hours or overnight before cooking. They contain oils that turn rancid quickly. Be sure to refrigerate them in an airtight container.