Ever since Macrobiotics class at school, I have been trying to eat a variety of grains. Grains are really good for us, but here in the US we get stuck in a rut with processed wheat. We seem to eat bread or pasta most of the time, and only rarely eat something else like rice or the ever-popular quinoa. Grains that look like they are on the plant are the best way to eat them, not ground into a flour. The wheat berry fits the bill. Wheat berries are somewhat new to me. We never made them at school but my friend Jane shared a delicious wheatberry salad with me some years ago. I finally got around to making them. You can read about wheatberries here. They are the whole kernel of wheat, left in its natural state.
You cook wheat berries like most grains, in water on the stove top. I soaked mine for about 6 hours in water to cover. No directions tell you to do that, but it seemed right to me as they take forever to cook. You just sort them, put in water to cover by a couple of inches, and bring a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour or until tender. Mine actually took and hour and fifteen minutes! Clearly you have to plan ahead. You can cook them in advance and then reheat in the morning with almond milk to make a breakfast dish. I cooled them and then mixed them with roasted butternut squash, blanched carrots, sliced kale, red onion, pistachios and craisins (can you tell craisins are a favorite?) and a balsamic dressing. We ate it at room temperature as a main dish salad, topped with avocado cubes. It got better as it sat in the fridge and we ate it several times as leftovers. I added more thinly sliced kale when we ate it leftover, just to freshen it up a bit. This is so good….filling but not heavy, kind of sweet, a nice bitter from the greens, and a good balance of soft and crunch. It is a nice recipe to take you into Fall.
On a completely unrelated note, have you ever used chalk paint? It is fun and so easy. I have my grandmother's old buffet and it was kind of in rough shape. It had a weird finish on it and places were cloudy and discolored. I decided to paint it before I move to the new house. I plan to put it under the built-in cabinet in the dining room. (I hope it fits…I measured but only getting it there will reassure me!) I wanted a color that would be a nice contrast with the natural wood color. I decided on Annie Sloan chalk paint. It is like a miracle paint. You don't have to sand or prime the piece! You just paint it on, then wax it. I chose Aubusson blue which is a nice smokey blue. I think it will contrast nicely with the natural wood of the built-in cabinet and the hard wood floors.
I got it all painted in one afternoon and then got one coat of wax on the next day. I am going to do a second coat of wax and add a little dark wax for contrast. It looks amazing. I will post a picture when I am all finished. Here is a photo just after I started. Having a little project adds so much spark to life, doesn't it? Creative, productive, and a great end result. The paint is expensive but I highly recommend it!
Nice, isn't it? Hope you have a great week. Eat some wheat berries and paint something!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Keywords: gluten-free vegan vegetarian cranberries kale butternut squash wheatberries
Ingredients (6 servings)
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp siracha
- pinch of salt
- 2 carrots, sliced and quickly blanched in boiling water, and cooled
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
- 2 cups cooked wheat berries
- 2 large leaves of curly kale, stem removed and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup vinaigrette dressing
- 1 Tbsp hemp seeds
- scant 1/3 dried cranberries
- scant 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
- sliced avocado
If needed, cook the wheat berries. (Add wheatberries to a pot with water to cover by 2 inches, bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour or so until very tender. Drain, set aside to cool.)
Preheat oven to 400. In a small bowl, toss the butternut squash with olive oil, maple syrup, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar,and siracha so all pieces are coated. Place in a single layer on a parchment paper or aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking. When browned and tender, remove from oven and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine kale with 1 Tbsp vinaigrette. Massage the kale with your hands a minute or two, until it gets a little limp and tender. Add the wheatberries, carrots, onion, dried cranberries, hemp seeds, pistachios, and butternut squash. Lightly stir it all together. Add about 1/4 cup dressing and mix it all together. Taste and season with salt, pepper and more dressing as desired.
Arrange on serving platter, top with a few more pistachios and cubes of avocado.