This is the kind of dish that will make your meat-loving relatives go back for seconds. It's filled with chewy, hearty wheat berries that somehow feel light when topped with a subtle citrus dressing. Notes of orange and lemon weave through the dish. The addition of spinach, pine nuts and feta cheese give you something interesting to look forward to in every bite.
It's a variation on a Heidi Swanson recipe. I used the same flavor base, but I made it a bit healthier (Yes, I know. It's hard to believe you could actually make a Heidi Swanson recipe healthier but indeed I tried) by halving the olive oil and increasing the amount of spinach.
This dish would be delicious as a vegetarian main course or a hearty side salad. The citrus makes it a delightful winter dish, and it's make-ahead quality makes it perfect for entertaining.
Winter Wheat Berry Salad
recipe adapted from Super Natural Cooking
This recipe will serve 4 to 6 people as a main course and several more as an appetizer.
2 cups soft wheat berries, rinsed
6 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons minced shallot
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 large handfuls spinach leaves
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Cook the wheat berries: In a large saucepan, combine the wheat berries, water and 2 teaspoons salt. Heat over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil, and then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the berries have plumped and are chewy. This should take about an hour. Taste a few grains to ensure they are ready. Drain the mixture, and season with salt, as needed.
Prepare the dressing while the wheat berries are cooking.
Prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the orange zest and juice, lemon juice, shallot, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk well.
Assemble the dish: While the wheat berries are still hot, add 4 large handfuls of spinach. Stir, tossing regularly, until the spinach wilts. Add the citrus dressing and stir well, covering all the grains. Stir in the pine nuts and the feta cheese.
Taste the dish. Add salt and pepper, as needed.