May 30, 2010

Wheat berry salad with green onion sauce, walnuts, and goat cheese

In my effort to cook naturally, I have discovered a few really delicious and healthy foods that have become family favorites. Wheat berries are one of them. Wheat berries are in essence a wheat kernel (minus the hull), and are packed with nutrients, including fiber. They are crunchy and almost like brown rice, but with more flavor and better texture. They are perfect for soups, salads, and are a great substitute for rice or other grains. They do require a bit of cooking time, but you can soak them for a couple of hours to reduce the time, or if you can find soft wheat berries (which is what I used in this recipe) then your cooking time will be shorter as well. I buy mine at Sprouts (a farmers market grocery store), but you can find them at most specialty stores, or anywhere you buy bulk. If you can't find them feel free to substitute brown rice or barley.

This salad is so refreshing and hearty, and the prefect side dish for some grilled meat. I love goat cheese, but if thats not your thing you can use feta or any other crumbly cheese. I served my warm wheat berries over some spinach, and the warmth of the berries just barely wilt the spinach and create an amazing combination of flavors and textures.

I imagine that substituting arugula for the spinach would be great as well. Simply put this salad is not only tasty, but packed full of nutrients for your body. I don't know about you but most days my body craves something healthy, and this salad is just what my body needed.....

Wheat Berry salad with Green Onion sauce, Walnuts, and Goat Cheese
This recipe is really easy, and you can really substitute any nut and cheese you like. 
Serves 6
2 cups Wheat Berries, rinsed
4 1/2 cups chicken stock or water (I used a mix of both)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or butter
12 green onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup toasted walnuts*, coarsely chopped
3 oz goat cheese
5  cups or so of spinach to lay under wheat berries

Combine the wheat berries and stock/water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until the berries are tender, about 45 minutes to an hour (cooking time will vary based upon soaking or not). While the berries are cooking, prepare green onion sauce.

Heat the olive oil or butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the green onions and saute for 5-10 minutes until the onions start to soften and barely brown. Stir in a couple pinches of salt. Transfer them to a food processor, and puree lightly puree them, until they are creamy, but still slightly chunky.

When the wheat berries are done, stir in lemon zest, walnuts, green onion sauce, and pinch of salt and pepper. Place a mound of spinach on a plate, and scoop the wheat berries on top. Top the salad with the goat cheese, and serve warm.

Toasted Walnuts: To toast walnuts, place nuts in a small skillet over medium high heat, and stir around until walnuts become aromatic and toasted, about 3-5 minutes.

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