Versatile Whole Grain Berry Salad
Having cooked grains in your refrigerator means you have healthy “fast food” at your fingertips! Cooked wheat berries, rye berries or oat groats can be used in savory seasonal grain salads. The cooked berries also make fantastic breakfast bowls when combined with yogurt, milk, fruit, and nuts.
Using a ratio of 3:1 (3 cups water, 1 cup berries), allows you to make as many berries as you need to have quick and easy, creative, and healthy meals all week long.
- 2 cups cooked whole wheat or rye berries (any variety works well, but we especially like Soft Red, Frederick or Turkey Red Wheat Berries, Rye Berries or Whole Grain Oats)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup pesto (homemade or from a jar)
- Crunchy vegetable such as radish, carrot, cucumber, pepper, thinly sliced, either raw or lightly pickled
- Sour cream (optional)
- A large saucepan to cook the berries.
Using a ratio of 3:1 (3 cups water for 1 cup berries), combine water and berries in a large saucepan, add salt and bring to a boil. Simmer until berries are tender, about 1 hour, but still have a little chewiness. Cooking times will vary a bit depending on variety, so start testing them after about 30 minutes. (See Cook's Note below for details.)
Drain and rinse the cooked berries, add a tablespoon of olive oil or butter if desired, and store leftover grains in the fridge.
- To make the grain salad, combine cooked berries with pesto, vegetables and garnish with sour cream. You can premix the salad or arrange it in individual bowls.
Soft wheat berries such as Soft Red or Frederick will usually cook more quickly than hard wheat berries including Turkey Red, Red Fife, Warthog or Glenn. One cup of uncooked berries yields approximately 3 cups of cooked berries.
Rye berries contain less gluten and boast a nice sweetness in addition to the nuttiness that is characteristic for wheat berries.
Oat groats don't contain gluten and are a little more tender than wheat or rye berries. Cooking time for oat groats is approximately 30-40 minutes.
Themes and Variations
Here are a few points of inspiration and adaptation:
Feel free to substitute a vinaigrette for the pesto. Apple cider vinegar combined with olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper and a hint of sweetness (honey or sugar) lets grain berries shine. Any of your favorite dressings will also be delicious.
- Spring: Radishes, spinach and ramps are among the first to appear at markets and make for a wonderful berry salad.
- Summer: Integrate corn, tomato and basil to make a whole berry feast that bursts with sunshine.
- Fall: Fall is full of opportunities. Zucchini, peppers, beets and carrots being just a few of them.
- Winter: Pair your cooked berries with root vegetables (e.g. parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, rutabagas) and hearty herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage. Make sure to give cabbages and winter squash a chance to shine too.
- Here's a guide to seasonal produce for you to explore more tasty options.
Posted on June 23 2022