Here’s an ingenious way to include whole grains in your next meal. It comes from Eat Feed Autumn Winter (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2008), a lovely, large-format cookbook that extols the pleasures of cold-weather foods. This recipe features wheat berries, which are, as author and Eat Feed podcast host Anne Bramley explains, “what is left after you ‘separate the wheat from the chaff.’”
The little high-fiber kernels cook up to a pleasantly chewy texture and mingle with Greek accents like feta, olives and dried figs. If that’s not ingenious enough, there’s also a cranberry and balsamic reduction to tie it all together.
Avoid chilling this dish, which can toughen the wheat berries. Served at room temperature as a salad or side dish, it is both “something different” and deeply pleasurable.
1. Soak the wheat berries in water for 1 hour while you prepare the other ingredients.
2. Heat the olive oil in a 2 1/2-quart saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more or until softened. Remove the onions and garlic to a bowl.
3. Drain the wheat berries and put them in the same saucepan with the chicken or vegetable stock and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 45 to 50 minutes. When the wheat berries are tender but still slightly chewy, remove them from the heat and drain off any excess liquid.
4. Meanwhile, in another saucepan combine the figs, cranberry juice and balsamic vinegar. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes until the figs are soft and the liquid has become thick and syrupy. Set aside to cool.
5. Gently combine the wheat berries with the onions and garlic, olives, artichoke hearts, and fig compote. Just before serving, crumble the feta over the salad and toss gently but thoroughly.