Autumn Wheat Berry Salad

Autumn Wheat Berry Salad with sweet butternut squash, plump dried cranberries and orange vinaigrette. |

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?

Say no.

Next up on the things to talk about list: wheat berries.

Autumn Wheat Berry Salad | realfoodandicecream.comWhat 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.

Autumn Wheat Berry Salad |

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…

Autumn Wheat Berry Salad |

5.0 from 2 reviews
Autumn Wheat Berry Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Autumn Wheat Berry Salad with sweet butternut squash, plump dried cranberries and orange vinaigrette.
Recipe type: Side
Serves: 8
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400º.
  3. On a baking sheet, toss the squash and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast until soft, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. While the wheat berries and squash cook, prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the orange zest and juice, remaining tablespoon olive oil and maple syrup.
  5. After cooking, drain the wheat berries in a fine colander.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the wheat berries, squash, vinaigrette, parsley and cranberries.
  7. If you have time, cool in the refrigerator.
  8. Top with sliced almonds just prior to serving.
This tastes best after refrigerating and can be made the day before 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.

Autumn Wheat Berry Salad |

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    • says

      Thanks Sam – one of my favorite combos too! And thanks for the compliment on the sidebar picture. That was a naptime, camera stacked on 10 books with the timer set project… fun, or something like that ;)

  1. says

    This salad looks super delish! And who woulda thought a hospital cafeteria would be the inspiration for something like this? :) Glad I’m not the only one who eats TJ’s dried fruits like candy. I have to hide bags at my house and then bring them out periodically, otherwise they’d all be gone in an afternoon!

  2. Bill H. says

    I’m making this recipe to take to our family’s Thanksgiving feast tomorrow. I went to a major grocery store (not the one where I onetime saw RealfoodMom MD, but the other major one in our area). I easily found all the ingredients I needed except the wheat berries. I picked up one of the customer service phones to inquire about the berries possible location and had the following conversation:
    Me: Hi, do you carry wheat berries?
    Customer Service: hang on (puts phone down but doesn’t cover the receiver, then starts speaking to her colleague) Some health nut wants to know if we have “weed berries.”
    Colleague: I don’t know, send him to the aisle with all the weird food.
    Customer Service: (speaking to me again) Our flour has wheat in it, so they might be in the baking aisle.
    Me: thanks

    Turns out they did have wheat berries, right next to the quenoa, near the rice. So, keep on doing what you do, Real Food and Ice Cream, the world needs a lot of help.

    • Bill H. says

      P.S. Am I okay making this about 24 hrs in advance and keeping it refrigerated? I’ll say I’m making it early for convenience sake, but really I just can’t wait to try it!

    • says

      Please know that this comment made my day. And even after I read it, I randomly started laughing again 10 minutes later thinking about it. I will add to the recipe notes that wheat berries can be found with the “weird grains” and that I found mine in the bulk section. Hope the family enjoys this lighter addition to the spread. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  3. Bobbi says

    I am perplexed and think I am missing something here. Doesn’t “vinaigrette”, by definition, contain vinegar? But I see no vinegar listed in the ingredients.

    I’m so confused. Please help.

    Thanks so much. The recipe looks delicious, although maybe a little bland and the pic is beautiful.

    • says

      Hi Bobbi thanks for the comment/question. While the “technical definition” of vinaigrette includes vinegar and olive oil, for the purpose of this recipe, I wanted something fresher and sweeter to compliment the sweet flavors of the dried cranberries and roasted squash. I would consider the orange juice to be the acidic component in the “vinaigrette”. This article on The Kitchn gives 10 great ideas for mixing up your vinaigrette!

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