Wheatberry Salad with Cranberries, Feta, and Mint

by rivka on June 1, 2009 · 8 comments

in easy-as-a-1-2-3, good for you, sides, vegetarian, weekday lunch

wheatberrysalad1

Yet another installment of my weekday lunch series; you can never have enough recipes for midday workplace eats.

I don’t have anything to share about this recipe that’s particularly exciting. It’s just another rendition of my standard grain+bean+berry+herb salad formula. But I realized as I made this salad that it was my first time making wheatberries. At least, I’m pretty sure it was my first time — in any event, it definitely won’t be my last. Wheatberries are pretty underrated, so much so that when I served them last Friday night, most everyone around the table asked what they were. “Wheat,” I replied. No one got it; “What part of the wheat? Like, they’re really just wheat? Are they some sort of berries that grow off the wheat crop?” No, I replied, it’s really just wheat. Funny that we don’t know what the food we eat most often actually looks like, but that’s a story for another time.

Wheatberries are sweet and nutty, with a nice solid texture. They’re probably super versatile; I can envision them in a variety of salads, soups, and stews. Writing that line, I just remembered that I’ve actually used wheatberries before, when making the Sephardic version of cholent, the rib-sticking stew made on Friday and cooked at a low temperature through the night. Unlike the Eastern European recipe of barley, beans, potatoes, beef, and eggs, the Sephardic version, called “Hamin,” is made with wheatberries, chickpeas, and dates in addition to the beef, chicken, and other leftovers. The wheatberries are cooked inside cheesecloth wrapper within the dish, so they can be piled separately onto the plate as a bed for the rest of the goodies.

wheatberrysalad2

Hamin is for another day. This here salad is simple and fresh, and it’s a great way to make use of any leftover herbs you may have. I used cranberries, mint, black eyed peas, and Keswick Creamery feta (the best feta on earth, btw — would you believe it’s cheaper than the imitation crap at the grocery store?), but I can envision an equally delicious version with feta, sundried tomatoes, basil, and navy beans, or with cilantro, kidney beans, fresh tomatoes, and some chipotle en adobo. I made a super-tangy vinaigrette with some Honeycup honey mustard, fresh lemon, salt, pepper, chopped shallot, and olive oil — but any old vinaigrette would do just fine. My pics don’t have the feta, because I put it in just before serving — but don’t leave it out; it adds a brininess that plays really well with the sweet tartness of the cranberries and the freshness of the mint.

Wheatberry Salad with Cranberries, Feta, and Mint

1 cup wheatberries (available at natural foods stores)
1 can or 1 cup dried black eyed peas
1/2 cup diced or crumbled Feta
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries, cherries, or other dried berries
1/2 cup chopped mint
5 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 tablespoon mustard (I like a sharp honey mustard)
freshly cracked pepper, to taste

In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the wheat berries for 1 hour, or until they are tender, and drain them. (At this stage, the wheatberries can be stored for several days in a covered container until ready to use.) In a small bowl, mix lemon juice, olice oil, salt, pepper, and mustard. Whisk to combine, and adjust as necessary. In a large bowl stir together the wheat berries and all other ingredients. Toss to combine. Serve cold or room temperature.

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1 oneshotbeyond June 1, 2009

so unique and looks so refreshing for summer!

2 jenna June 1, 2009

i love your weekday lunch posts! so inspirational.

3 Sylvie June 2, 2009

Wheatberries are good, aren’t they. I love the nutty flavour of them in salads.

4 sangeeta khanna June 7, 2009

this salad looks beautiful…..the use of feta and cranberries is interesting ……..in India we make it a bit differently…..
came here through Lori’s link and i liked it… i must say.

5 Kay Harris June 10, 2009

We loved this salad. Is this recipe enough for 12 people?

6 rivka June 11, 2009

So glad you liked it! I’d double the recipe if serving to 12, even as a side dish. Worst case scenario, you’ve got leftovers :)

7 Trish Weisman July 21, 2009

Wonderful! I served your wheatberry salad as part of a three-salad first course (with a friend’s corn salad and an eggplant, artichoke, and green olive salad I think I learned from your mom eons ago). Everyone raved.

I am allergic to red onion, whey, and lemon juice, so I used scallions, soy feta, and white wine vinegar with a sprinkle of sour salt, and instead of black-eyed peas, black chickpeas that were already cooked and in the freezer. The mix of textures and flavors was genius.

Love the blog–the writing, the photography, and the recipes!

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