Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Green beans and wheat berry salad

I love the bulk bins at the grocery store. All kinds of exciting lentils, beans, grains and spices waiting for you to try . Chanting the mantra that I need to eat more whole grains, I picked up some wheat berries. I remembered this very easy sounding recipe for wheat berry pilaf and thought I could try it. That was almost 6 months ago.
You know what comes next. You come back from your weekly grocery shopping outing and  there is no more room in your kitchen pantry.
Then you make a vow to eat through your pantry supplies before you buy more.
Then begins the phase of discovery.
-I discovered a wild rice salad made with onions and dried fruit
-I discovered that cajun spice rub tastes flavorless when it is forgotten for some time.
-I discovered that thyme and dill added to a salad dressing adds a new dimension of flavor
And then I discovered the wheat berries.

Cooking wheat berries seemed simple enough… a simple soak and a boil.

I soaked. And I boiled. The berries were hard.
So I boiled some more and  the berries were still hard. It took me   almost 4.5 hours to get that perfect chewy texture.

Let me spare you the trouble and share with you lessons learned

  1. When you buy stuff from the bulk bin, label it precisely
  2. There are 2 kinds of wheat berries… the kind that I bought take a long cooking time  and are called "hard wheat berries". Buy the other kind.
  3. Cooked wheat berries store wonderfully in the freezer, so make a big batch   

The recipe
This is best served warm or at room temperature.  Pan frying the wheat berry kernels adds a wonderful texture to the salad. I used wheat berries that I had cooked and frozen earlier for this recipe; thawing the wheat berries in the microwave.
Serves 6  easily

3 cups cooked wheat berries
1 16oz bag frozen french cut beans
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1/4 c finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp freshly ground  black pepper
2 tbsps finely chopped cilantro
1 tbsp oil
1 1/2 limes juiced or more to taste
Salt to taste.

Heat the oil in a large wok or large fry pan. Add the cumin seeds. Once they crackle, add the black pepper and the onions. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the green beans and stir fry on high heat about 3 minutes. Add the wheat berries to the wok. Stir fry for  3 more minutes. Take the wok off the heat and add the chopped cabbage.
Add lime juice and salt to taste.

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