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Posts tagged ‘wheatberries’

Wheatberry and Dandelion Green Salad with Pesto

Mmm, healthy salads (and no, that’s not always redundant – just ask any chain restaurant)!

Wheatberry and Dandelion Green Salad with Pesto

Earlier this week I sang the praises of wheatberries, and suggested adding them to a salad. I followed my own advice and made them one of the staple bases of this filling lunchtime salad, along with some dandelion greens!

Dandelion greens are new to me in terms of food. I’ve heard health food types sing their praises for the past few years, but I’ve never picked them up for my own use until now. Whole Foods had some nice bunches for sale, and one of my goals each week is to never get the same leafy greens twice in a row, with an extra incentive to try and get greens I don’t normally buy. Dandelion greens fit this bill, and I’m excited to try them in some new dishes, especially since they supposedly do amazing things for your health* (the website claims that dandelion greens could, among other things, improve liver function, cleanse and purify both the skin and blood, and help treat various illnesses), and are a natural source of loads of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, iron, potassium, fiber, and more. Huzzah!

Who can resist such beautiful greens?

But the million dollar question – how do dandelion greens taste? I ate these greens straight up and raw in the salad (save for a pesto dressing) and the first thing I noticed was that they were very bitter. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a flavor to note – if you’re not a fan of bitter greens, then you may want to cook the dandelion greens a bit or perhaps swap out another green for this salad (I would recommend arugula on the stem, or kale). Have you ever eaten celery leaves? It’s a similar bitter flavor, but not quite as zippy. It’s kind of hard to explain. I, however, didn’t mind once I processed the flavor, and actually really enjoyed the way it paired with tangy tomato, sweeter asparagus, and neutral wheatberries, not to mention the pesto (I also love celery leaves, for the record).

This salad is very dense thanks to all the fiber, not to mention a good share of protein coming from the wheatberries and veggies. I used a pre-made pesto sauce, so no recipe for that (today) – use your favorite! I think the pesto adds a nice zip to all of the vegetables and especially the wheatberries, but you can use another dressing if you like.

Wheatberry and Dandelion Green Salad with Pesto (serves 1)

1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped dandelion greens

1/2 cup prepared wheatberries

1/2 of a medium tomato, sliced

3 stalks of asparagus, chopped

1-2 TB prepared pesto sauce

Toss all ingredients in a bowl until the pesto covers all of the ingredients evenly. Serve immediately.

*Just a note that I’m not a doctor and am not claiming that dandelion greens *do* perform health miracles, but rather *may.* Always consult a professional for advice on herbal medicine (or any sort of medicine) – certainly don’t consult a food blog!

In Praise of Wheatberries

Who loves whole grains? *raises hand*

Like many folks I’m sure, the main grains represented in my diet for most of my life consisted of rice and bread, usually of the white variety. While my family switched to whole wheat bread when I was in high school, and brown rice eventually found its way into my meals, my grains were largely limited to these varieties. Over the past few years I’ve been making a conscious effort to broaden my whole grains scope. One big change was adding quinoa to my diet when I made stir-fry’s in place of rice, and I still want to buy grains such as barley and kamut so I can experiment at home. But one grain in particular has stolen my heart – wheatberries!

Now yes, I do realize that wheatberries are where bread comes from, so it’s not a huge stretch. But eating entirely-unprocessed wheat has marked a significant change in the way I normally enjoy this grain – and for the better! Wheatberries are loaded with fiber and also have a good amount of protein and potassium. But who cares about that – how do they taste? In a word, amazing. Cooked wheatberries have a fun chewy texture, and also a simple flavor made good with a touch of salt or a bit of sweetener.

Wheatberries with bananas, slivered almonds, and pure maple syrup - great before a workout!

Cooking wheatberries takes about the same amount of time as cooking dry beans. You soak your wheatberries overnight in a saucepan, drain, then cook in fresh water for an hour, until the grains split and they’re chewy. I buy my wheatberries in bulk (much cheaper), but if you buy a packaged variety, check to see if they’re pre-soaked or not – if they are, this means you can leave out the soaking step. Wheatberries keep pretty well, so I always make a big batch and keep it in the fridge for various meals.

So you’ve got these wheatberries now – how should you eat them? Here are some of my favorite ways/ideas …

-Making a pre-workout breakfast with 1/2 cup a wheatberries, PB, agave nectar, almond milk, and ground flax (a variation on eHow’s power cereal)

-Another breakfast: having a bowl of wheatberries with a handful of chopped walnuts and a drizzle of pure maple syrup (you can add bananas to this as well!)

-Using some wheatberries in place of rice for a stir-fry

-Adding wheatberries to a veggie wrap or tortilla

-Throwing wheatberries into a salad

What are some of your favorite ways to prepare/eat wheatberries?