Monday, October 3, 2011

Wheat Berry Salad

I made the best dinner salad tonight and I have no one to really vouch for me. Miles has a sinus infection and he couldn't even taste my invention. I am so bummed. I know I am saying my kids' opinions don't matter. Usually I do care about that a little. I want them to like healthy food and be exposed to lots of different things, but if they don't like it I am still going to make them eat what I fix. So I guess in the big scheme of things their opionion only counts a tiny portion!
I started with some of these hard red spring wheat berries. I was first exposed to wheat berries at the craft fair in Spokane with my sister. Don't you love sampling all the dips, jams, butters, and sauces at those things. You don't even need to pay for lunch if you just sample your way through the fair.
Wheat berries are whole, unprocessed wheat kernels that contain all three parts of the grain, including the germ, bran and starchy endosperm. Only the hull, the inedible outer layer of the grain, has been removed. As a result, wheat berries retain all of the grain's vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.  All wheat products are made from wheat berries, including white and whole-wheat flour. 
You  can click on this link above if you would like more information about wheat berries and their nutrional content which is where I found the above description.

The only bummer about wheat berries is that they take a long time to cook. I have two words for you though. Crock Pot. Just put them in over night covered in water on low and they are good to go for the next days recipes after you drain them. Tonight I had time to cook them on the stove though. I love their soft inside crunchy outside texture and their nutty flavor!

Next I cooked some cut up chicken in balsamic and olive oil until done on the stove.

I didn't have much lunch so I wanted to make this a heartier dinner salad but it would be great without chicken too if you want to eat vegetarian one night or for lunch.

Then came all the good stuff!
Sliced Figs
Sunflower Seeds
Wheat Berries, of course
Seaside English Cheddar

This was such a unique combination of flavors and textures and very healthy!

I bought this cheese at Whole Foods. We totally are in love with it but I think you could find something similar in town. Just look for a sharper cheddar if all else fails.

Now I began contemplating what dressing I was going to mix in with these delicious flavors and textures and I remembered that I had some leftover fennel-dijon dressing from the cabbage slaw and I knew it would be perfect.

The recipe is from Kalyn's Kitchen, a blog I follow. I did make a few changes to this dressing. I used half mayo and half greek yogurt, no Vege-Sal, and Stevia instead of Splenda. Tonight I added more agave nectar. Here is the recipe:
1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle or with a heavy rolling pin
1/2 cup mayo or light mayo (can use half plain yogurt and half mayo)
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T sugar, Splenda, or agave nectar (use Splenda or agave nectar for South Beach diet)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. Vege-Sal (vegetable seasoned salt) or salt
1 tsp. celery seed (optional)
fresh ground black pepper to taste.
I mixed the dressing all in and topped it with a little more cheese and wheat berries. I have to say this was my favorite dinner in a long time. I went to get seconds from the bowl after I finished mine and low and behold it was almost gone. I looked at my husband and said, "You ate more of this even when you can't taste it?" He replied, "Yes. I had the sense that it was really good. I liked the textures." I will be making this again when he can taste so I can get a little less biased opinion then my own, but I am guessing I might be on to something if he can't taste and he still ate seconds.

I did serve this with some orange slices and whole wheat oatmeal bread I had leftover from small group last night. I topped it with homemade cashew clementine butter and we also had a bowl full of veggies with dip.
So colorful and pretty. Put a bowl of veggies out like this often. You might be surprised what your kids will end up take out of there and trying. This is how I have gotten Faith to LOVE red peppers!

For the record, Evan did say, "Mmmmmmm....this is really good!" I think he mostly liked the chicken though. Now I must get on to those sugar free banana smoothies I promised the kids and preparing my breakfast, Overnight Oatmeal. I will share that soon!


Jenny said...

I don't think I've tried wheat berries yet. I think I bought them once, and they may be one of the unidentified bags from bulk in my freezer. (I'm really bad about doing that and forgetting what it was or how to cook it.) Another idea for my future crock pot!

Pam said...

You must try wheat berries Jenny! You will love them. They are very versatile like quinoa. So sorry you had to look at my picture of cooked meat.

Jenny said...

I forgive you this time.