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)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of kosher salt.
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.
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.
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.
Cut the dates into small pieces, set aside.
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.
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.
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.
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.