Wheat berry salad. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Wheat berry salad. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

I’ve decided to go vegan.

Yep. Vegan all the way. Not for ethical reasons, but for reasons of vanity. I’m getting fat. I’m getting old and the fat tends to stick around. And where diets are concerned, I know one thing for sure: it’s very hard to gain weight on a vegan diet. So vegan it is, at least until I drop twenty.

For my first night as a vegan, I went for a wheat berry salad, because it satisfies like meat. I first tried wheat berries after looking through Heidi Swanson‘s book, Super Natural Cooking. You have to work your jaws. The whole wheat kernel has lots of fiber and nutrition. And it can carry all kinds of different flavors, so there’s no end to what kind of dishes you can create with wheat berries. Also, the weather was very hot and this is delicious at room temperature. This wheat berry salad proved to be the perfect summer entree.

I made this recipe the first week of July, a Monday. I’d promised friends I’d grill Vienna beef hot dogs with natural casings, as always, on the Fourth (something of a moral obligation in this household). The day after the wheat berry salad I really wanted an egg on a pasta dish I was making.

At least I could say I did it, though. I went almost 24 hours as a vegan. It was easy. I think I’m going to be a vegan all the time now. I’m just never going to be skinny.

Wheat Berry Salad

For the salad

  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into small dice
  • 2 ears corn (or 1 cup corn kernels)
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (or lima bean or peas), cooked
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 leaves romaine lettuce or head lettuce (optional)
  1. In medium saucepan over high heat, combine the wheat berries and water, and add half the diced onion and the bay leaf. When the water reaches a simmer, cover and reduce the heat to low. After 30 minutes, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, stir to dissolve, and taste the cooking water. If it needs more seasoning, add another 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and continue cooking until tender, another 30 minutes or so. Uncover and simmer until almost all of the water has cooked off. Set this aside and keep at room temperature or chill.
  2. In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat a film of olive oil, then saute the remaining diced onion. When the onion is tender, add the red pepper and sauté until the pepper is tender. Remove from the heat. While the onions and peppers are cooking, boil the corn ears for a few minutes. Hold them under cold water till they’re comfortable to handle, then slice the kernels off the cob into a large salad bowl. Add the cooked edamame, the onions and peppers, and the wheat berries.
  3. To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice, shallot, garlic, and a three-finger pinch of salt and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the cayenne, and whisk in the oil. Taste. If it’s too sharp, add more oil.
  4. Toss the vegetables and wheat berries with the dressing, holding some back. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Taste and evaluate. Add more dressing or additional lemon juice to taste.
  5. Serve in lettuce leaves if you wish.

Serves 4

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.