Mmmm kay, so, can we just chat a little today?
My creative juice tank is running on empty after a long day/night of work yesterday and I’m trying reeeeallly hard not to drink any coffee with the hope that I will be able to close my little eyes after we chat a bit about this Autumn Wheat Berry Salad.
But before we get to that, let’s chat about one of the top reasons why this food blogger gig is probably not going to work out well for me. I absolutely refuse to celebrate any holiday before it is actually here. Kind of like the time I waited until the end of October to post my first pumpkin recipe, here I am, less than a week before Thanksgiving, posting a holiday side dish recipe.
Actually, just a couple days ago, someone asked me what my Thanksgiving plans were, and I was like, “ooooh, I don’t know yet”. I’m just not a planner. I prefer the fly by the seat of my pants approach to life. Does that make me irresponsible?
Next up on the things to talk about list: wheat berries.
What the what are wheat berries? They are basically the entire whole grain of the wheat kernel. To cook them, you boil them in water until they are soft and then drain. Super simple. And in this recipe, after they are soft but still have a little bite to them, you toss them with some sweet and delicious orange vinaigrette.
My weird discovery of wheat berries happened in, of all places, the hospital cafeteria. I know, I know. First, recipes inspired by airports and now cafeterias? Crazy talk. But no way, no how, am I eating a piece of chicken that’s floating in water. Just, EWWW.
That cafeteria salad was chock full of yummy dried cranberries and so is mine. If you can find them, whole cranberries are absolutely the best, most amazing dried cranberries. My local Trader Joe’s carries them and I try not to eat them out of the bag like candy.
And with those cranberries, I tossed in some roasted butternut squash to give it an autumn twist, topped it with sliced almonds for a little crunch, plus some parsley because this is a kinda-sorta health food blog and all things green are healthy.
There you have it, my lovely readers, a Thanksgiving side dish. There’s still time to add it to your menu, I promise!
And now, I’m going to remove the toothpicks holding up my eyelids and sleep. I have a feeling I may regret this rambling post when I rise but thanks for hanging in there and reading. Edits may ensue in a few hours…
- 1-1/2 cups wheat berries
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Zest of one orange
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- Combine the wheat berries and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until soft, about 40-50 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400º.
- On a baking sheet, toss the squash and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast until soft, about 20-30 minutes.
- While the wheat berries and squash cook, prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the orange zest and juice, remaining tablespoon olive oil and maple syrup.
- After cooking, drain the wheat berries in a fine colander.
- In a large bowl, combine the wheat berries, squash, vinaigrette, parsley and cranberries.
- If you have time, cool in the refrigerator.
- Top with sliced almonds just prior to serving.
Look for wheat berries in the grains section at your local grocery store, some grocers carry them in the bulk section.
For gluten-free, replace the wheat berries with quinoa.
Short on time? Substitute quicker-cooking couscous for the wheat berries.