Wheat Berry Salad with Peppers and Zucchini
One day at Krupin’s, my local deli in Washington, DC., I noticed a salad that looked too healthy for the heavily meat-laden place. But this wheat berry salad with diced vegetables has been on the menu, according to the deli owner, for years. Wheat berries, also marketed as “spring wheat,” are whole wheat kernels stripped of their husks. Because they are not processed, wheat berries retain many of their nutrients: vitamin E, riboflavin, thiamin, iron, and phosphorus. I tried my own rendition of this dish with everyday garlic vinaigrette. You can vary it by adding feta cheese, fresh capers, and dill. This salad will last three to four days in your refrigerator. Freeze any leftover cooked wheat berries and throw them into your dough the next time you make bread.
Total Timea day or more
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursemain course, side dish
Dietary Considerationhealthy, vegetarian
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturecheesy, chewy, herby, nutty
Type of Dishfirst course salad, main course salad
- 2 cups raw wheat berries
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 medium red pepper, diced
- 1 medium green pepper, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 5 sprigs of parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped or torn fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 2-3 tablespoons goat or feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 or 2 pinches sugar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
The night before you plan on serving the salad, put the wheat berries in a large pot, cover them with 4 inches of water, and soak them, covered, for 8 hours or overnight, in the refrigerator. This shaves an hour off the berries’ cooking time.
The next day, pour out the soaking water, cover the berries with an inch or so of water, then add the salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour or until the berries are tender but still very chewy. If you haven’t soaked the berries overnight, simmer them for an additional 1 hour or until done. You will have about 5 cups of wheat berries.
While the berries are simmering, toss the peppers, zucchini, and onion in a large bowl.
Prepare the vinaigrette by briskly stirring together the vinegar, olive oil, crushed garlic, mustard, sugar, and salt and pepper in a small bowl.
When the berries are tender, drain the water and add them to the vegetables, stirring gently with a large spoon. Toss with the vinaigrette, parsley, basil, chives, and goat cheese and serve at room temperature.
2005 Joan Nathan