New Ingredient of the Week: Wheat Berries

I’ve decided to start a  new little game for myself – every week, I am going to try (*TRY*) to make something with an ingredient I haven’t ever cooked or baked with before. So welcome to Week #1!

My ingredient for this week is Wheat Berries. According to Wikipedia: The term wheatberry or wheat berry refers to the entire wheat kernel (except for the hull), comprising the bran, germ, and endosperm. Wheatberries have a tan to reddish brown color and are available as either a hard or soft processed grain. They are often added to salads or baked into bread to add a crunchy texture; as a whole grain, they also provide nutritional benefits since they are an excellent source of dietary fiber.

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I have a thing for couscous and love all things quinoa, so this seemed like a logical extension – and I found a yummy looking recipe as I was cleaning and clipping through old volumes of Cooking Light. I modified it slightly based on my own tastes, but it turned out really well. I like the texture of the wheat berries, and loved the lemon tang and the creamy goat cheese. A great light dinner, and makes enough to bring for lunch for a day or two!

Wheat Berry and Goat Cheese Salad (adapted from Cooking Light)

1 1/4 cups wheat berries
2 1/2 cups chopped English cucumber
2/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
2  cups loosely packed chopped arugula
1 handful of fresh basil, sliced thinly
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled herbed goat cheese

1. Place wheat berries in a medium bowl; cover with water to 2 inches above wheat berries. Cover and let stand 8 hours. Drain.

2. Place wheat berries in a medium saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above wheat berries. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook, uncovered, 1 hour or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well. Place wheat berries in a large bowl; add cucumber and next 4 ingredients (through tomatoes).

3. Combine zest and next 4 ingredients (through sugar) in a bowl; gradually add oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss well to coat.  Let stand at least 30 minutes; serve at room temperature. Add cheese to individual dishes when ready to serve (I don’t think it will sit well in there overnight and hold it’s consistency!)

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