What’s a wheat berry, exactly? Before turning them into a salad, you should know what they are…
Wheat berries are whole wheat kernels — a true whole grain. They can be used to make wheat sprouts, can be ground into a flour for baking, and used to grow wheatgrass. Wheat berries can also be cooked like rice or quinoa as a side dish, made into a breakfast porridge or tossed into a salad — either mixed into a green salad or used on their own as a pasta-alternative. You can find them in health food stores and in the grain or healthy section of most grocery stores. Purchase them in packages, like these from Bob’s Red Mill, or from the bulk bins.
Since they’re not processed at all, none of the grain’s nutrients get stripped away. Wheat berries are high in fiber, protein and iron. When cooked, the kernels have a firm, chewy texture and they taste slightly nutty. Since they are in their natural form, plan for about an hour of cook time. To reduce that by half, you can soak the kernels overnight. There’s no special method to cooking them — just boil in salted water, covering the grains by at least two inches. Add more water if it gets low.
Ellie Krieger’s Wheat Berry Salad is a great introduction to this healthful whole grain; the simple ingredients (dried fruit, nuts and a lemony dressing) allow the nutty flavor of the grains to shine, plus it’s really easy to make. When I make this salad, I make a big batch and portion it out in containers to take to lunch during the week. I add the nuts on top before I eat it so they stay crunchy, but you can add the nuts at the same time as the other ingredients if you like.