I’ve been reading up a lot on how to make good use out of whole grains. Most of us are used to eating refined grains and grain products, and don’t really use whole grains in our everyday cooking. So I ambitiously went to the store and stocked up on a bunch of things that I realized, when I got home, I had NO CLUE how to make taste good.In this case, wheat berries. A wheat berry is the whole wheat grain (except the hull)- and has oodles of nutrients like selenium (which helps thyroid function), magnesium (which has anti-inflammatory properties, helps nerve function, and assists in bone-strengthening), and dietary fiber. In short, very good for you. But the question still remained- How do I cook this thing? After thinking up various combinations of wheat berry + other ingredients, I decided upon pairing it with roasted butternut squash. Now, a lot of people use butternut squash in soups, but I actually really love the heartiness of it when roasted and kept in chunks as opposed to pureed. It has a delicious earthy-sweet flavor and a gorgeous texture. The smoothness of the squash I thought would contrast nicely with the bite of the wheatberry. Since you can’t have a salad without a little cheese, I added the tangy goat cheese to balance the sweetness of the squash. And the spinach, well, that was just for being over-the-top nutrient-wise. And it saved me from having to make a main course as this salad is quite filling on its own! *Note- since the wheat berries take a while to cook, I would suggest cooking them a day or two in advance if needed, storing them in the fridge, and then reheating when using for the salad. I was able to do this the day of, but I did have some time on my hands.
Makes 2 entrée-sized portions, or 3-4 side servings
Ingredients1/3 cup dry wheat berries (whole wheat grain- found in supermarkets), soaked in 2 cups water for at least 2 hours or overnight2 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed to bite-sized piecesSprinkle of olive oil1/8 tsp salt1/8 tsp pepper6 tbsp fresh-squeezed orange juice1 tbsp maple syrup3-4 oz goat cheese6-8 oz baby spinach3 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds
Cook the wheat berries in about 3 cups water over medium-low heat for about 1 ½ hours. When they are done, they will be tender but with a little bite to them, and you will see the insides smush out (seriously, that’s the only way to describe it! See photo below).