In a recent pantry reorganization, I found a bag of wheat berries I'd been meaning to use. A simple salad with some winter citrus and salty feta seemed like a good idea, and it all turned out very tasty. Light yet satisfying, this makes a perfect lunch or dinner side salad this time of year.
The textures of this salad are good. There's the juiciness of the blood oranges, a crumbly-creaminess from the cheese, and the chewiness from the wheat berries. As for the flavors, oranges and feta are great together, and the dressing mirrors that sweet and tangy combination with onions, vinegar and a bit of sugar.
What's missing is some color. I wanted to add something green, but what? I went with a handful of parsley -- nice but perhaps less than inspired. Consider this recipe a work in progress, and feel free to add your own preferred ingredient for added color. It needs to be light and not too overwhelming, but interesting. Some promising options would be arugula, thinly sliced napa cabbage or a handful of crunchy fennel
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To make this salad into dinner, just add some baked fish or even a simple poached egg. Note that you'll make more vinaigrette than you need for this recipe, but the leftover is fantastic on green salads or as a marinade.
WHEAT BERRY SALAD WITH BLOOD ORANGES, FETA, AND RED ONION VINAIGRETTE
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side salad
1 cup soft wheat berries
6 tablespoons Red Onion Vinaigrette (below)
2 blood oranges
3 ounces feta cheese, cut into chunks
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Optional: 1 cup diced fennel, diced radishes, sliced green onions, or diced celery
Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add a sprinkle of salt and the wheat berries. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the wheat berries are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain.
In a medium bowl, combine the warm wheat berries with the vinaigrette. Stir to combine. Cut the blood oranges into segments (supremes) and dice small. Add the orange pieces, feta, parsley and any additional vegetables to the wheat berries. Toss and serve.
Leftovers will keep refrigerated for one week.
RED ONION VINAIGRETTE
Makes about 1 cup
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (from about 3 sprigs)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
Heat two teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme, and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the onion mixture to a tall-sided container along with the vinegars, extra-virgin olive oil, sugar, salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Alternatively, blend in a blender or food processor. Keeps refrigerated for several weeks.
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(Elizabeth Passarella is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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