Thursday, September 28, 2006

Nuts for Berries

As I mentioned yesterday, we are now nuts for berries. Berries as in the edible part of grains. Wheat. Oat. Barley. And so on. Nuts as in lost our minds (?!).

A new market is growing in prominence on our shopping forays. One which caters to berry eating people. Sort of an upscale, over priced store for displaced, now employed hippies. Called Mother’s Market.

It carries all the things that were once the badges of the back to nature movement of the late 60s and early 70s. Strong emphasis on organic.

Except for the prices, which are steep, it has that sort of laid back, friendly casualness. If not directly of a food cooperative, like back in ‘the day’, at least compared to most modern markets. Until you get to the cash register. But then, everyone there is apparently well employed (unlike back in ‘the day’), and therefore seemingly unconcerned about this aspect.

And it employs oddly reggae looking people, but still dressed in a casual uniform. They should have Bob Marley piped in, but when we were there it was Joe Jackson. More 80’s San Francisco than 70’s Jamaica, but maybe more fitting.

Their selection is pretty interesting. Things are stacked tightly, floor to ceiling, so you really have to hunt. But I have found things I haven’t seen in a US market for 20 years.

It used to be, you could go to any store and get a variety of flours. Rye, wheat, white, etc. But that all went away. Now, there is only white and wheat. Apparently no one makes bread anymore, and the few who do stick to the basics.

But here at Mother’s, I was able to find not only whole wheat, but also spelt. Something that is found often in northern Europe. Called ‘dinkel’ in German, it is made into a variety of breads and rolls.

This is of interest, as we are embarking on an experiment to make a real sourdough bread, made with our own home grown rye sourdough starter (at work as I write), along with a mixture of flours from rye, spelt, and a few other grains. Possibly for an announced World Bread Blogger Event. Assuming the experiment comes out reasonably photogenic. But the starter has a week to go before we can even experiment with baking. So I am not getting my hopes up.

Other than that, we have stocked up on all manner of grains. And TeenGirl has scoured the Internet for recipes that use these grains.

I feature another one here today. A salad made with wheat berries.

You can get wheat berries in ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ varieties. We chose ‘soft’, mainly because it seemed they would cook up faster.

To get some flavor into the berries, they are finished in chicken broth, and tossed not only with thyme and lemon zest, but also goat cheese.

Plus a colorful addition of wilted Swiss chard. Swiss chard not only adds a delicious flavor component, but also gives the entire salad a sort of reddish glow. Adding immeasurably to the appeal of the dish. Plus, of course, the contrast of the wilted chard to the slightly crunchy berries is also very nice.

The result was delicious. As well as low fat. And low glycemic index carbohydrates.

The nutty grain infused with lemon and thyme, moist with goat cheese and Swiss chard, it was a beautiful accompaniment to some oven grilled chicken breasts.

Aside from the fact that you have to plan ahead to cook the grain, the salad came together quickly. And delivered a lot of flavor for the effort!

Wheat Berry Salad with Swiss Chard
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 cups soft wheat berries
2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
4 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 ounces crumbled reduced-fat goat cheese
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 bunch Swiss chard, washed, ends trimmed, cut into strips
4 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds, if desired
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Additional fresh thyme leaves for garnish, if desired

Soak wheat berries in cold water to cover by 2 inches in a bowl, overnight, covered and chilled.

Drain wheat berries well and cook in pot of 2 quarts boiling water uncovered until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well and toss with thyme and lemon peel.

Heat chicken broth in a large skillet over medium heat till it boils. Add Swiss chard, and sautee until wilted, 3-4 minutes. Add wheat berry mixture. Simmer mixture until broth is reduced to a couple of tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl, gently toss in goat cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add sunflower seeds if using to salad, and toss.

Place salad on serving plates. Sprinkle with thyme leaves if desired. Serve. Enjoy!

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Blogger Brilynn said...

I like the texture of wheat berries, they're a change up on the ordinary.

9:43 AM  
Blogger surfindaave said...


The wheat berries are a nice change from everyday same ol' same ol'! We've tried them in a few different ways, and I've enjoyed them all so far!

11:58 AM  

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