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In this wheat berry salad, wheat berries and walnuts combine with asparagus and radishes in an addictive, chewy, crunchy, colorful combination, a simple salad to herald the arrival of spring, which at last appears to be here to stay. // alexandracooks.com

Spring Wheat Berry Salad


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford at alexandracooks.com
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup wheat berries (pre-steamed or not — just be sure to check the cooking time on the package)
  • 1 small red onion or a few shallots
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 8 to 10 radishes
  • 3 to 4 medjool dates or other dried fruit
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • about a teaspoon of kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste or minced hot chili pepper (jalapeno, serrano, etc)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of kosher salt.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop the red onion or shallot and place in a small bowl. Cover with 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar — it’s OK if all of the pieces are not submerged.
  3. Chop off the end of the asparagus spears. Cut the asparagus on the bias (just for looks) into small pieces — ½-inch to 1-inch in size.
  4. Cut off the ends of each radish. Slice thinly into rounds — a mandoline is a good tool for this. Stack a few slices at a time, then cut straight down to make slivers.
  5. Cut the dates into small pieces, set aside.
  6. If you feel like toasting the nuts, place walnuts on a sheet pan and cook at 350ºF for 8 to 10 minutes — watch closely to prevent burning. Place the toasted walnuts in a tea towel and rub together to remove papery skin. Transfer walnuts to a sieve and shake again to remove any additional skin. More detailed instructions can be found here. I actually didn’t toast the walnuts this time, and I thought they were delicious.
  7. Cook wheat berries according to package instruction. During the last minute of cooking, add the asparagus to the pot and cook one minute further. Note: My package called for 15 minutes of cooking time but it took about 17 minutes or so for the wheat berries to be done. I added the asparagus after the 17 minutes and cooked the wheat berries/asparagus for one minute more — wheat berries are forgiving; they won’t turn to mush like pasta if overcooked by a minute.
  8. Drain wheat berries and asparagus, transfer to a bowl and season immediately with 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or a little less if you are wary), the olive oil, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.
  9. Add the macerated red onions, chopped walnuts, radishes and dates. Toss with a large spoon. Taste. Add another tablespoon of vinegar if necessary and more salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Toss. Taste again. Serve.