Dooooooon’t skip over this recipe!
Look, I know what you’re thinking. Normally I would think the same thing: “Wheat berries. Ummm. Boring.” But so help me, I’ll be had if you make this, try it and don’t like it. Change the name if it makes it more appealing to you. Pretend it’s rice. Heck, pretend it’s chocolate. Whatever it takes to make you try it. Because once you do, you will be very pleasantly surprised. This Asian Wheat Berry Salad is so tasty, even my two year old devoured it! Now if a picky toddler likes this salad, so you will you!
This is the third recipe now that I’ve experimented with using wheat berries. The first one was my Mega Healthy Wheat Berry Salad and the second was my Mexican Wheat Berry Salad with Chipotles and Toasted Walnuts. Both were so good that I wanted to experiment making a wheat berry salad with an Asian flair. And so now we have three delicious, healthy wheat berry salads!
So you may be asking yourself, why should I give a hoot about wheat berries? I mean, wheat berries, c’mon! There are several reasons you should give them a try. 1) They’re healthy. Wheat berries are whole grains and are an excellent source of dietary fiber and protein. Plus they’re packed full of B vitamins. 2) They leave you feeling filled and satisfied (ie, a great diet food if you’re trying to shed a few pounds). 3) And perhaps most importantly – these salads taste awesome! And that’s important, because no matter how healthy something is, if it doesn’t taste good forget it. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring (though it often is) and these wheat berry salads taste fantastic. The wheat berries themselves have a pleasant chewy texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. But it’s when these wheat berries are combined with the other textures and flavors that they really shine.
I knew I had a winner the moment I started tossing the ingredients together for this Asian Wheat Berry Salad. There are some terrific flavors and textures going here. And like I said, I was floored when I sat down with a bowl of it and my two year old sat down next to me and asked for some. I gave here a bite, not thinking she’d even try it, or at least spit it out, but eat it she did. Followed by a second bite. And a third. And eventually she commandeered the entire bowl! Here’s the proof:
So, do yourself, your health, your tummy a favor and give this Asian Wheat Berry Salad a try!
Let’s get started!
First cook the wheat berries. There are two basic kinds of wheat berries: Hard and Soft. You’ll need soft wheat berries for this recipe which can be a little more challenging to find. Whereas I’ve been able to find hard wheat berries in the bulk sections of some large grocery stores, I’ve only found soft wheat berries at health food stores. If you have a hard time finding them locally you can buy them online for a good price. The Palouse Brand happens to be based here in my home State of Washington. The wheat berries are grown here, they’re non-GMO, are not irradiated, are Certified Kosher Parve, and their wheat berries can be sprouted. Several thumbs up for WA’s very own Palouse Brand!
Okay, let’s cook those wheat berries. Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a sauce pan. Add the salt and the soft wheat berries. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the wheat berries are tender, about an hour. Drain. (Note: If you soak the wheat berries overnight it cuts the cooking time roughly in half.)
Do you like water chestnuts? They don’t have a lot of flavor, but they have a marvelous texture, so we’re going to chop those up and add them to our salad.
We’re also going to chop up the celery and green onions, shred some red cabbage and julienne some carrots. I’m loving all the different colors and shapes!
Then we’re going to make the dressing. You’ll need hoisin sauce for this. You can find it in any Asian grocery store. If not, you can conveniently buy it here online.
So combine the hoisin sauce with the rest of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Place the cooked wheat berries in a large mixing bowl with all the veggies. The wheat berries can still be warm, but not hot.
Pour that delicious dressing over it and stir to combine.
The longer it sits the better it will taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or two before serving. Best served at room temperature.
Enjoy! (You will, I promise!)
- 1 cup uncooked soft wheat berries (can substitute grain of choice, e.g. quinoa, spelt, millet, sorghum, etc)
- ¾ cup julienned carrots
- ¾ cup shredded red cabbage
- ¾ cup finely chopped celery
- ½ cup sliced green onions
- ⅓ cup chopped water chestnuts
- For the vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce or make your own
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- To cook the wheat berries: Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a sauce pan. Add the salt and the soft wheat berries. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the wheat berries are tender, about an hour. Drain. Set aside and let cool (can be warm but not hot).
- Combine the wheat berries and all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and stir to combine. Let the salad sit for at least 1-2 hours before serving. Best served at room temperature.
- Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side salad.