This Asian Wheat Berry Salad recipe is easy to make, features a vibrant rainbow of colors and textures, and is absolutely delicious! A perfect make-ahead salad.
I know what you may be thinking. “Wheat berries. Ummm. Boring.” But I’m telling you what – if you make and try this and don’t like it, you can shame me forever. Really, you just need to try 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 daughter at age two devoured it when I made it a few years ago for the first time. 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.
That was a such a hit in our family that I next proceeded to make a Greek Wheat Berry Salad.
It was another big hit!
Why we love this Asian Wheat Berry Salad:
- It’s healthy. Wheat berries are whole grains and are an excellent source of dietary fiber, B vitamins, and protein. This wheat berry salad is also packed with an array of nutrient-rich veggies.
- A small serving of this salad leaves you feeling satisfied (ie, a great diet food if you’re trying to shed a few pounds).
- It tastes awesome! And that’s important, because no matter how healthy something is, if it doesn’t taste good forget it. This wheat berry salad is not only visually beautiful with a vibrant rainbow of colors and has a great interplay of textures, it’s also thoroughly delicious.
Here’s the proof of that last claim: Several years ago when I developed this recipe I sat down with my first serving of it to have for lunch. A minute later my then two year old daughter climbed up next to me, asked for a bite, and before I knew it she commandeered the entire bowl!
Asian Wheat Berry Salad Recipe
Let’s get started!
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. This particular brand is non-GMO, non-irradiated, is Certified Kosher Parve, and these wheat berries can be sprouted.
To prepare the wheat berries, let them soak overnight. Then drain and rinse. Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a small pot. Add the salt and the wheat berries. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the wheat berries are soft but still have some “bite.” The time will vary depending on the age of your wheat berries and whether you fermented them (see below) but plan on 20-30 minutes. Drain. Set aside and let cool a little.
NOTE: I like to ferment my grains before cooking with them (more easily digested, the vitamins/minerals are more bio-available, and the phytic acid is neutralized). To ferment the wheat berries simply soak them in water (make sure they are completely submerged under water) at room temperature for 2-3 days until the water fizzes when you jiggle the bowl. Then drain and rinse and proceed with cooking the wheat berries (they will cook faster having soaked this long).
Prep your veggies. Cut/chop/slice/julienne them according to your preference.
Next make the dressing. You’ll need hoisin sauce for this. You can find it in any Asian grocery store. If not, you can buy it here online.
If you have time, for the absolute BEST flavor results we recommend making your own hoisin sauce. Check out our recipe for authentic homemade Hoisin Sauce!
Combine all 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 2 hours before serving or overnight.
This salad can be served cold but we enjoy it best served at room temperature.
Asian Wheat Berry Salad
- 1 cup raw soft wheat berries (can substitute grain of choice, e.g. quinoa, spelt, millet, sorghum, etc)
- 3/4 cup julienned carrots
- 3/4 cup shredded red cabbage
- 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions
- 1/3 cup chopped water chestnuts
- For the vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- Homemade Hoisin Sauce (click for recipe)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- To prepare the wheat berries, let them soak overnight. Then drain and rinse. Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a small pot. Add the salt and the wheat berries. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the wheat berries are soft but still have some "bite." The time will vary depending on the age of your wheat berries and whether you fermented them (see below) but plan on 20-30 minutes. Drain. Set aside and let cool a little.See NOTE about fermentation.
- Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Place all the vegetables and cooked wheat berries in a large mixing bowl (the wheat berries can be warm but not hot). Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving or overnight. Can be served cold but we like it best at room temperature.
First published on The Daring Gourmet January 5, 2015