Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Thursday, April 2, 2009

This Salad Looks Like Spring

I wouldn’t call it a spring salad, though, since it doesn’t have any seasonal vegetables in it. It’s not quite the growing season here in Michigan. But soon the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market will be filled with the farmers & all their delicious produce. I can’t wait. I’m starting to get impatient. I really miss the taste of a fresh tomato. I hate grocery store tomatoes out of season so I haven’t had one since the fall. Cucumbers, too. Jim’s got his seeds started under grow lights in our dining room & they’re already getting their secondary leaves. We’ve got lemon cucumbers (I swear they’re shaped like lemons but they are cucumbers), Riverside onions, Arkansas Traveler & Ropreco Paste tomatoes, & Fino Verde & Greek basils. He also plans to grow lettuce, potatoes, & beets.

In the kitchen garden outside my side door, I see the parsley popping up & the chives are already several inches tall (& very green). And our mints are poking up so it will soon be time to put them in pots again for the summer (otherwise they will take over the gardens).

I decided to make this salad because I had some soft wheat berries I want to use. Wheat berries are yet another grain out there in the big wide world of grains. I first heard about wheat berries in this wonderful cookbook I own called Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. It’s a gorgeous soft cover cookbook filled with recipes made from whole foods. She talks about so many different grains—I can’t wait to try them all. They have beautiful names like amaranth, teff, & farro. And they look so pretty in salads & soups. Best of all, they are very high in fiber so when added to recipes, they can be very filling.

For this salad I used a recipe on the back of the Bob’s Red Mill bag that looked really good. I’m usually not a fan of package recipes and, as always, I didn’t follow it exactly, mostly because I didn’t have all of the ingredients. The important thing is that it came out pretty and it tastes good.

Wheat berries take forever to cook so I thought I’d save some time by soaking them overnight; well, let me tell you that that didn’t help much. They still took about 45 minutes to soften completely. They look like fat rice-shaped pasta & are kind of chewy like pasta, too. I like the color & different look they give to this salad.

While the wheat berries were simmering, I made the dressing (or “vinaigrette” as the package called it). It specified 1/2 cup of olive oil which I always think is too much, so I used a 1/3 cup instead. Then I added 2 tbsp fresh lime juice, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, some dried parsley (because I didn’t have fresh—not yet anyway), 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (it called for honey mustard but I didn’t have), a sprinkling of minced onion (it called for 1 tbsp minced shallot—now that I think of it, I could have used garlic), 1/4 tsp sea salt, & ground black pepper to taste, & whisked it with a fork.

When the wheat berries were cooked, I drained them then put them in a large bowl. I then took 1 15-oz can of white kidney (cannellini) beans & drained & rinsed them. I added the beans to the bowl, as well as 1/2 cup of chopped onion & 1/2 cup chopped celery. I then poured the dressing all over the salad & tossed to combine. I chilled it in the refrigerator for a few hours to blend the flavors. Isn’t it beautiful?

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See? It does look spring-like, doesn’t it?

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I served it on a bed of mixed greens.

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