Monday, September 7, 2009

Wheat Berry Delight

I have been reading about the wonders of Wheat Berries and have been searching my local grocer for weeks to locate them. I was eager to put this grain to use. You see, wheat berries are a whole grain, meaning the grain is left intact so the nutrients do not oxidize. A cup of cooked wheat berries has about 300 calories and is packed with fiber, protein and iron. When boiled, cooked wheat berries have a chewy bite and subtle nutty, earthy flavor. They’re sturdy enough to handle bold salad dressings and still delicate enough to taste delicious with some milk, honey and cinnamon. There are two varieties of wheat berries, red and white. The red tend to be a little heartier and require longer cooking times.

Wheat berries can be used in other forms as well. Those who are industrious grind them into whole wheat flour for baking, or if you like sprouts you can add a little water to them and watch them grow. The sprouts are loaded with vitamin E, a cell-protecting antioxidant, and magnesium, which is good for healthy bones and muscles.

Finally, after visiting my mother in Chicago, I found the illustrious grain at Whole Foods. I was so excited to have nutritional powerhouse in my hot little hands that I immediately set to work. Over the past few weeks I've been testing them out and here are two of the better recipes I've come up with.

Wheat Berry Salad
1 C raw wheat berries
3 1/2 C chicken or vegetable broth, or water
Cooking spray
1 C Swiss chard
2 Tbsp minced leek
1/2 C. diced yellow squash
1/2 C. diced zucchini
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
juice of 1/2 of a clementine
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 oz crumbled goat cheese
Salt & pepper, to taste

To prepare the wheat berries, place 3 1/2 cups broth (or water) in a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil. Add wheat berries and simmer, covered, for an hour. Uncover and continue cooking until all liquid has been absorbed and berries are beginning to burst and are chewy. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, coat a small saute pan with cooking spray and saute chard and leeks, over medium-low heat, until chard is wilted. Remove mixture from pan, coat pan again with cooking spray, saute squash and zucchini over medium heat until tender. Be careful not to overcook the vegetables, they should be tender, but not falling apart.

In a small bowl whisk together the clementine juice, vinegar, oil and oregano.

When the wheat berries are done cooking and have cooled for about 15-20 minutes combine them with the vegetables and dressing. Gently fold in the goat cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wheatberry Stuffed Eggplant
1/2 C raw wheat berries
2 C chicken or vegetable broth, or water
2 Japanese eggplants
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, charred, peeled and diced (or about 4 slices from a jar of roasted red peppers)
1 C skinned, diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
3 oz crumbled goat cheese, or feta
Salt & pepper, to taste
Cooking spray

To prepare the wheat berries, place 2 cups broth (or water) in a medium sauce pan, bring to a boil. Add wheat berries and simmer, covered, for an hour. Uncover and continue cooking until all liquid has been absorbed and berries are beginning to burst and are chewy. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Gently remove flesh from the center of each eggplant half; careful not to cut through the skin, leave about 1/2 inch of flesh around the edge. Dice the removed eggplant and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, careful not to burn the garlic. Add the diced eggplant, roasted pepper, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wheat berries and continue to stir.

Spray the eggplant shells inside and out and place on baking sheet. Fill each shell with the wheat berry mixture and top with 1/4 of the cheese. Bake until golden brown, approximately 40 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog...Working woman, health-conscious? Makes sense to me!

    ReplyDelete