In my recent pantry reorganization, I found a bag of wheat berries I'd been meaning to use. A simple salad with some winter citrus and salty feta seemed like a good idea, and it all turned out very tasty. Light yet satisfying, this makes a perfect lunch or dinner side salad this time of year.
The textures of this salad are good. There's the juiciness of the blood oranges, a crumbly-creaminess from the cheese, and the chewiness from the wheat berries. As for the flavors, oranges and feta are great together, and our dressing mirrors that sweet and tangy combination with onions, vinegar, and a bit of sugar.
What's missing is some color. I desperately wanted to add something green, but what? I went with a handful of parsley — nice but boring. Green beans didn't seem like a good fit. It needs to be light and not too overwhelming, but interesting. Maybe some arugula stirred in? Or thinly sliced napa cabbage?
This was a very satisfying, healthy lunch. But I'm looking at it as a work in progress. What would you add?
This is my ideal kind of winter salad. It satisfies my craving for hearty and satisfying dishes, but also manages to be light and healthy. A nice change from all the rich stews and roasts of the season!
I love the chewy pop of the wheat berries paired with the oranges and feta. I agree with Elizabeth, though, and think this salad needs a little something. My favorite addition is a handful of crunchy fennel. I also doubled the amount of wheat berries from Elizabeth's original recipe to give the salad some more substance and balance out the juiciness of the oranges. This change is reflected in the recipe below.
I think this makes a great lunch all on its own. To make it into dinner, I just add some sliced chicken breast, baked fish, or even a simple poached egg.
Note that you'll make more vinaigrette than you need for this recipe, but the leftover is fantastic on green salads or as a marinade. The onions also make this pureed dressing thick and creamy without adding eggs or other ingredients. I love it! -Emma
Wheat Berry Salad with Blood Oranges, Feta, and Red Onion VinaigretteServes two as a main course or four as a side salad
1 cup soft wheat berries
6 tablespoons Red Onion Vinaigrette (below)
2 blood oranges
3 ounces feta cheese, cut into chunks
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Optional: 1 cup diced fennel, diced radishes, sliced green onions, or diced celery
Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a medium sauce pan. Add a sprinkle of salt and the wheat berries. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the wheat berries are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain.
In a medium bowl, combine the warm wheat berries with the vinaigrette. Stir to combine. Cut the blood oranges into segments (supremes) and dice small. Add the orange pieces, feta, parsley, and any additional vegetables to the wheat berries. Toss and serve.
Leftovers will keep refrigerated for one week.
Red Onion VinaigretteMakes about 1 cup
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (from about 3 sprigs)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
Heat two teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the onion mixture to a tall-sided container along with the vinegars, extra-virgin olive oil, sugar, salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Alternatively, blend in a blender or food processor. Keeps refrigerated for several weeks.
(This post was originally published on 3/3/09)
(Image: Emma Christensen)