Wheat Berry Salad with Corn, Asparagus, Tomatoes and Pesto Vinaigrette

by formerchef on September 23, 2012

Post image for Wheat Berry Salad with Corn, Asparagus, Tomatoes and Pesto Vinaigrette

Here in Southern California, summer is not quite over. We’ve been pushing temperatures in the 90’s for the last two weeks and it certainly doesn’t inspire any cooking which requires slaving over a hot stove or even turning on the oven. That’s why I’m so enamored lately by cold salads which can do double duty. They can serve as a side dish or the main course later in the week (assuming you have leftovers!).

What is a wheat berry?

This is wheat in its whole grain form. According to Grain Mains wheat berries are one of the most common whole grains and appear in many forms; hard red wheat berries (hearty and firm in texture and flavor), soft white what berries (often used to grind into flour), whole grain farro, spelt berries, kamut, and whole grain bulgar (not the processed kind which removes the bran).

The book recommends pre-soaking the wheat berries for 8-12 hours before cooking, but I’m typically too impatient to do that. This time I did a test; I pre-soaked one batch of wheat berries for use in another recipe from Grain Mains and the other I cooked in my snazzy rice cooker* on the brown rice/whole grain setting for my own recipe (this one). The rice cooker does a one hour heated pre-soak and then cooks the grains. In the end, I could detect no appreciable difference, so using a rice cooker is a faster and easier option if you have one. If you don’t, then you’ll want to pre-soak and then cooked the grains in simmering water for 45 minutes to an hour until they are tender, then drain.

This is a lovely end-of-summer salad utilizing what’s still available in the market; fresh ripe tomatoes, sweet corn, and tender asparagus. Serve it as a side dish or add in your choice of protein and you have a complete meal in a bowl.

Wheat Berry Salad with Corn, Asparagus, Tomatoes and Pesto Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 6 cups

Serving Size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cups (uncooked) hard red wheat berries
  • 2 ears corn
  • 1/2 lb asparagus
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 4 Tbsp pesto vinaigrette
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook the wheat berries either in a rice cooker (best if it has a brown rice setting which cooks a bit longer) or with the traditional method on the stove top. If cooking in a pot, soak the wheat for 8-12 hours in cold water. Drain, and add to a medium sized pot. Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until tender. Drain and spread out on a sheet pan to cool. If cooking in a rice cooker, when done, spread on a sheet pan to cool.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with water and ice. Blanch the corn in the water for about 5 minutes and shock in the ice water to chill and stop the cooking. In the same pot of water, drop in the asparagus and blanch for 2-4 minutes until tender (depending on the size of the asparagus). Shock the asparagus in the ice water.
  3. Cut the corn off the cob. Cut the asparagus into 2" lengths on the diagonal. Dice the tomato.
  4. Mix the pesto vinaigrette. The recipe can be found here: pesto vinaigrette
  5. In a large bowl, combine the cooked wheat berries with the vegetables and dress with the vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper to taste.
http://www.formerchef.com/2012/09/23/wheat-berry-salad-with-corn-asparagus-tomatoes-and-pesto-vinaigrette/

*I bought my Aroma rice cooker at Costco and I love it. It’s the exact same one as the Amazon link, same price too.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sueb September 23, 2012 at 9:59 am

I’ll try this for sure. I love wheat berries but I’ve never cooked them – good to know if I’m in a hurry. I honestly recommend sprouting them if you have time to plan a few days in advance. Then you have live food with all nutrients. I sprout a few servings and keep them in the fridge – the sprout tends to keep growing. I just happen to have some that are almost ready to eat and tomatoes still on the vine in the garden!

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2 formerchef September 23, 2012 at 10:01 am

Sue- I don’t really know anything about sprouting wheat berries. I’ll have to look into that. If you sprout them, does that mean you are eating them raw?

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3 JulieD September 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I have never had red wheat berries before…this salad looks gorgeous!!
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4 MaryO September 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm

What a gem of a website! Just discovered you. I live in LA too, but a little south, in San Pedro. Love reading your recipes and gardening section. MaryO

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5 Greenbin September 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm

In foggy Berkeley, we’re stilll waiting for our summer weather, but still cooking with the summery ingredients in your post. What camera did you use to get the beautiful close-up of the salad, and others. Hope you will check out the pretty peppers in my greenbin blog. I’m enjoying your posts.
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6 Ed Stark September 28, 2012 at 11:26 am

Your website amazed me. I’m a vegetarian and this is the first time I came across with wheat berry. I’ll surely include this on my diet.
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7 Denise October 8, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Great recipe. We are huge wheat berry fans – love them in salads as well as in savory sides. I love the addition of corn in this salad. Going to have to take advantage of the last of fresh corn and give it a try.
Denise recently posted..Steamed ClamsMy Profile

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8 OrGreenic November 1, 2012 at 11:45 am

What a great fresh and healthy side salad recipe. Thanks for sharing.

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