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
End-of-summer salad utilizing what's still available in the market; fresh ripe tomatoes, sweet corn, and tender asparagus along with cooked wheat berries.
Keyword: salad, healthy
2/3cupsuncooked hard red wheat berries
fresh ground black pepper
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.
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.
Cut the corn off the cob. Cut the asparagus into 2" lengths on the diagonal. Dice the tomato.