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Wheatberry Salad with Orange Citronette, Cranberries, Feta, Wild Arugula, and Toasted Pignoli

“To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist – the problem is entirely the same in both cases.  To know exactly how much oil one must put with one’s vinegar.” -Oscar Wilde, Irish rabble-rouser, author, playwright, and poet

Having the audacity to post something like a hearty, classic beef stew just after everyone’s gone and made their New Year’s resolutions…..well, that’s just wrong of me.  Let me rectify that situation with a lovely little grain salad chock full of colors and nutrition.

I’ve been wanting to address the little box of wheatberries in my cupboard for a while now.  I’ve never worked with them before  and haven’t really been sure what to do with them.  (Read:  I was afraid of totally screwing it up…..)  I used to make a variation of this salad with orzo pasta, and it always came out really nice, so I thought I’d swap out the orzo for wheatberry, make the flavor profile a bit more interesting, and see what happened.  Well, the good news is that it actually turned out wonderfully!  If you’re a fan of brown rice, you’ll probably like wheatberries too, provided you aren’t full of wheat allergies.  There’s a similar texture and nuttiness there.  You get a bit of sweetness from the cranberries and orange dressing, some creaminess from the feta cheese, more yummy nuttiness from the pignoli nuts, and of course lots of bright green nutrition from the wild arugula, scallions, and parsley.  This humble little salad’s got it all goin’ on!

Serve it as an appetizer, a side dish accompaniment to meat or fish, or enjoy it all on its own for lunch like I did.  Your New Year’s resolutions are safe and sound again!

Ingredients:

2 cups dried wheatberries, rinsed well in a colander

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of 1 orange

Extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 lb. good feta cheese, cubed in pieces approximately 1/2″ in size (NOTE:  I always use French feta – it seems to be a bit milder and creamier.)

1/4 cup dried cranberries

2 medium scallions, washed, trimmed, and sliced into thin rounds (NOTE:  You can use white & green parts in this recipe.)

1/4 cup pignoli (or ‘pine’) nuts, toasted in a small, dry saucepan until very fragrant and golden-brown all over (NOTE:  Don’t walk away from the pan when you’re doing this.  The minute you do, the nuts will burn, I promise, and pignoli nuts are expensive!)

Approximately 1 cup of loosely-packed wild arugula, washed and dried very well

Good handful of parsley leaves, washed, dried very well, and chopped fine

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

1.  Bring a saucepan full of water up to a boil on the stove over a nice, high flame.  When water begins to boil, add a good handful of kosher salt.  Add the wheatberries and boil until tender, about 45 minutes.  When the wheatberries are ready, drain them in a colander and let the steam come off of them for a few minutes while you make the citronette dressing.  In a large bowl (we’re going to add more stuff in a minute…..), dump in the orange zest and orange juice.  Whisking vigorously with a fork, stream in the extra virgin olive oil.  When the amount of olive oil roughly equals the amount of orange juice, stop and taste it.  Add more oil if necessary.  (NOTE:  Usually you want about 1 part acid to 3 parts oil for a dressing, but since oranges are much sweeter and less acidic than, say, a lemon, we can get away with a varied ratio.)  Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Add the cooked, warm wheatberries and stir with a spatula to incorporate.  Taste again and adjust seasoning.

2.  Allow mixture to come down to room temperature.  Toss in the dried cranberries, cubed feta, and toasted pignoli nuts.  At the last minute, stir in the wild arugula leaves and the chopped parsley.  Serve at room temperature.

Yield: This recipe makes about 6 cups of salad

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  1. Karen@Mignardise

    This looks absolutely delicious! I love the chewiness of wheatberries and the other ingredients will work well together. All my favorites are here.
    Thanks!

    Jan 13, 2010 @ 10:31 am

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