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Can we talk about wheat berries for a second?

I have no idea why no one eats them. With all the hullabaloo about quinoa and farro and other good-for-you grains going around, it seems only natural to start introducing other whole grains that aren’t getting as much air time.

So, meet the humble wheat berry. A wheat berry is not a berry at all, but a whole wheat kernel — the stuff that’s milled to get whole wheat flour. It’s eaten a lot more here in France (as a side dish, similar to rice) than in the States. Because the whole kernel is left intact, its nutrients come with it too: protein, fiber, iron, and vitamin E. It’s got a lovely tender, chewy texture and its flavor is nutty and similar to other whole grains like brown rice.

And it behaves beautifully in grain salads like this one because the kernels don’t stick to each other, and the nutty flavor stands up well to sweet fruit and pungent cheese. I like to have this as a filling but healthy lunch.

Fig Wheat Berry Salad

Makes 2 servings.

Ingredients
1/4 cup walnuts
4 figs
3 tablespoons goat cheese
2 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 cup wheat berries, cooked according to package directions and cooled to room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Toast the walnuts in a small skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes, until they smell nutty. Remove from the heat and chop roughly. Cut the figs into eighths and chop the goat cheese and parsley roughly. Mix the walnuts, figs, goat cheese, parsley, dried cranberries, and wheat berries in a large bowl.

Whisk the lemon juice and honey together in a small bowl until the honey is dissolved. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly. Add the dressing to the other ingredients and toss together. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

Notes

While this salad was designed with wheat berries in mind, barley, farro, or other whole grains that don’t stick together much would also work well.

Music to cook by: After the Bombs [The Decemberists // The Crane Wife]

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