Wheat Berry and Lentil Salad - june 24, 2010
My sister, who has for years been living off things like Doritos and Frito-Lay Bean Dip, recently joined a CSA in her town of Tucson, Arizona. She and my Mother share the subscription, and so far have been happily consuming most everything that comes their way, or so they tell me. Until my sister phoned one morning last week, not sure what to do with the bag of wheat berries she'd ended up with.
"Well, I just took it, you know. And gave Mom the squash...since I knew *she* wouldn't use them.." my sister told me, sounding cool as a cucumber, "do you have a recipe to recommend?"
And there was great joy in my heart. I wouldn't say my extended family has been at odds with my cooking habits, exactly, but they have come to see me as a bit of a scourge. For years I have been giving them cookbooks as gifts on all possible occasions, because I am one of those dreaded gift givers who gives what I most would like to receive. I routinely descend on their homes, beg them to drive me to the best markets around then dirty their kitchens and fill their refrigerators. I clutter up their living rooms with stacks of magazines and cookbooks and scrawl notes all over the ones I borrow from them (though I'm willing to bet they haven't noticed that yet).
And the worst thing of all? I travel with my own kitchen knife. If that isn't the snootiest thing in the world than I don't know what is. But, sadly, I just can't help it. Without my six inch chef's knife I am lost, plagued by a strange and unfounded fear that my family and I might starve to death.
So you can imagine how excited I was to have my sister actually ask for a recipe, instead of rolling her eyes and mouthing "thanks for the cookbook...again". Luckily, I happened to have the perfect thing.
This recipe is great because it uses summer vegetables, wheat berries, lentils and chick-peas, so it doesn't end up focusing too much on what is often seen as the star of tasteless health food cooking - the wheat berry. And it is healthy, oh so healthy. Protein, fiber, veggies, all that! I also love that it comes from Fifth Crow Farm, which is where I get my wheat berries. Fifth Crow is my favorite stop at the Inner Sunset Farmer's Market on Sundays. They always have the most beautiful produce and artfully designed stall - I could stand there for hours just taking it all in. In fact, the sweet peas featured in today's photo are also from Fifth Crow. So pay them a visit next time you're in my neighborhood on Sunday, or check to see if Fifth Crow Farm comes to your local Farmer's Market. Then you too might be lucky enough to find this recipe on the bag of wheat berries in your kitchen.
Wheat Berry and Lentil Salad: (adapted from Fifth Crow Farm's packaging)
1/2 cup wheat berries, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup brown or french lentils, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 19 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium tomato, chopped, or 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small cucumber, diced
1/2 cup italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
2 Tablespoons basil leaves, chopped
In a medium saucepan, combine the wheat berries with three cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for one hour, checking occasionally to make sure the heat is not too high and that the pan doesn't dry out. After the hour, stir in the lentils, cover, and continue to cook for about thirty minutes or until the lentils and wheat berries are tender. Drain into a colander in the sink and let cool to room temperature. You can prepare this step the day before you make the recipe.
For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, shallots and garlic in a small jar with a lid and let stand for a five minutes. Add the mustard and oil, screw the lid on tightly and shake the dressing to mix it. Taste and add salt and pepper until it seems right to you. You can prepare this step the day before you make the recipe, also.
In a large salad bowl, combine the wheat berries, lentils, chickpeas, tomato, cucumber, green onion and herbs. Add the dressing and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
It's really good, I promise!