A Southern Grace: what berry?

December 8, 2015

what berry?


First impressions are undeniably important, whether or not we fully realize it at the time.

As an example, I'd like to tell you about my introductions to two different foods and how each initial dish formed my opinion about its main ingredient. My first taste of kale came in the form of a salad, and I (and my poor, aching jaw) will never forget it. I'm sure that, if prepared correctly, kale can be entirely enjoyable, but in this instance, it was terrible. Since that occasion, I've actively avoided getting on the kale train, maybe to my own detriment. I guess I might give it another chance one day, and it will likely be a day when this kale craze is completely over.

On the other hand, my first taste of wheat berries was amazing in every way. They were the perfect texture and chewiness, and they were loaded with surprising and delicious flavors. They weren't even the main part of the dish, but they're what I remember most clearly and most fondly.

Because I was so impressed by the wheat berries, I took it upon myself to buy some and experiment with them, and this salad was my first attempt. I love to incorporate juicy fruits into dishes like this, and I happened to have both cherries and blueberries on hand, so in they went. Feta is essential for its salty, slightly sour contribution, and parsley just seems like a natural herb for this kind of salad. Though the wheat berries have more than enough texture to suffice, I wanted a serious crunch, so I included chopped celery and walnuts, and I appreciated them both.

This is truly adaptable around what you have in your fridge, so I hope you branch out and try wheat berries, if you aren't already obsessed! For the record, this wasn't nearly as good as the dish that introduced me to wheat berries, but it is (and I am) a work in progress.

Spring Wheat Berry Salad in Winter
(printable recipe)
Makes about 4 cups
  • 1-1/2 cups hard red spring wheat berries
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cherries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup pecan or walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
To prepare wheat berries: Sort through wheat berries carefully, discarding any stones. Rinse well under cool running water. Place in a large heavy saucepan. Add water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Drain and rinse. Let cool to room temperature.
To prepare salad: Combine cooked wheat berries, lemon juice, oil, celery, cherries, blueberries, parsley, and nuts in a large bowl; stir gently.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.


Pam said...

I've never tried wheat berries before. I am thinking I need to give them a try - this salad looks awesome.

Try using kale in soups or pasta dishes.

Mary said...

I always forget about wheat berries! Definitely pining this for later. I can see my kids really digging this salad!! Cheers :)

Kari Guastella said...

I love wheat berries. These look yummy!

Marcela N said...

Never tried wheat berries! Sounds great!

Pam said...

Wheat berries are great and I really like them with cherries like you have in your recipe. The thought of kale pretty much gags me and I know I will never be on the kale train just because of an experience similar to yours. Now I will have to add blueberries to the mix! Great!

Carolyn Jung said...

Sometimes things have to grow on you, too. I remember I used to hate oysters. I'd have them every which way -- raw, grilled, fried, etc. And I did not like any of them. Then, fast forward a decade, and I love them now. I think first tastes definitely matter. But our tastes also change as we get older. We just have to be open to the possibilities. ;)

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

Kale is strictly used only for Kale Chips in my kitchen.
Wheat Berries... I can't remember where I had them before, but I know I was impressed to.
Putting them on the shopping list.

Elsa | the Whinery said...

Oooh I love wheat berries too and your salad looks delicious! I toss them in my salads too, I'm going to have to try this :-)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I've had kale but I don't think I've ever tried wheat berries before! I must seek them out! :D

Katerina said...

I don't think I can find wheat berries here but this salad looks fabulous!

Angie Schneider said...

The salad looks very satisfying and nutritious!

Barbara said...

Great recipe, Grace. Love using wheat berries, barley...all sorts of grains in my salads. This one has some super ingredients and looks so colorful and healthy. A winner for sure.

Sue/the view from great island said...

I love love love this kind of thing for dinner, with a poached egg on top!

Adina said...

I love wheat berries too, I have them regularly in a salad as well. Your combination sounds super!

Kate @ Framed Cooks said...

I have never had a wheat berry - you've inspired me to try!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

Yes, it took me years (okay decades) to like kale! I kept getting it from the CSA so I finally had to figure it out. But the wheat berry salad does look like it would be easy to enjoy. I have a lot of frozen berries, so I may see if it will work with them (blueberries at least keep their shape well...)

Lori said...

Sounds great! I love wheat berries too.