Orange Wheat Berry Salad

Even though it is cold out and we are having the coldest winter since 1981, I've been craving salads. Maybe I'm just craving meals with an overflowing of green leafy vegetables, but that has been manifesting itself in salads.

Winter salads are not the same as summer salads. Winter salads need to be hardier, need to be comfortable, need to be chewy. They also need to celebrate the foods that are in season right now. 

Oranges and other citrus fruits are in season; so are kale and collard greens. I love the flavor combination of citrus with deep green leafy vegetables like kale, collards, and chard. So many times these greens get sautéed to death with cream and bacon, leaving the dish feeling heavy. Citrus makes it feel light - dare I say spring-like? It makes the greens taste vibrant, which in turn makes me feel vibrant. No easy feat in the dead of winter. 

For the hardy grain, I choose wheat berries. Spelt and farro would also be good in this salad. I like wheat berries because they have a bit of a chew to them and a strong wheat flavor. 

Wheat berries are the whole grain of wheat. They are what flour begins with. They are high in fiber and protein. 

You'll notice in my recipe I do soak the wheat berries before cooking. It cuts down on the cooking time slightly, and I think it produces a plumper, chewier texture when done. However, if you forget to soak, don't worry! You can still cook them up, and they will be delicious. Just add another 10 minutes or so to the cooking time. 

One last note, I've been playing around with infused olive oils lately. If you can find it, this salad LOVES orange olive oil. I love finding new ingredients to play around with and flavored olive oils provide that perfect improvisation inspiration. I find mine at The Oilerie in St. Paul, MN. Unflavored olive oil works great as well. 

Orange Wheat Berry Salad
6 servings | 70 minutes plus optional soaking time | Print

1 cup hard red wheat berries
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
4 cups shredded kale (collards or any other hardy leafy green will also work)
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 lemon
1 orange
1/2 cup olive oil (use orange infused olive oil if you have it)
Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Soak the wheat berries (optional): Place the wheat berries in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Make sure there is at least one inch of water above the wheat berries. Cover the bowl and let soak at room temperature for 5-10 hours. 
  2. Cook the wheat berries: Drain the soaking water and rinse well. Place the berries in a medium saucepan along with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer - just like you would with rice. Let cook for about 45-60 minutes, or until tender. Drain the extra liquid and place in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Add the red onion, kale, feta, and walnuts to the bowl and stir well to combine. Zest the orange directly over the bowl. Juice the orange and lemon, removing any seeds, and add, along with the olive oil, to the salad. Stir well. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. I usually end up adding about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/3 teaspoon pepper or so. 
  4. Eat while the wheat berries are still warm, or let chill in the fridge. This salad keeps really well for several days!

Inspired by Wheat Berry Salad from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson.

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