Wheat berries are great little nuggets — a whole grain, containing the germ, endosperm and bran. They have a nice dose of fiber and protein, as well as the B vitamins and several minerals.
Though you can cook them just until they are crunchy, I prefer to let them get a bit more tender. They take at least an hour to cook (often longer, despite what many packages say), though you want to make sure they have a bit of chew to them and don't get too soft. The basic ratio is 1 3/4 cups water or broth to 1 cup dried grain.
I often use them cool, in salads, and to cool them without them getting gummy I spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. If you make a nice-size batch early in the week, you can throw them into all kinds of side dishes and salads for extra texture. They kind of remind me of barley, but with even a bit more chew.
I'm going to revisit this salad in the belly of late summer, with chopped big ripe tomatoes and basil.
MEDITERRANEAN TOMATO WHEAT BERRY SALAD WITH FRESH HERBS
Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours (including time for cooking the wheat berries)
3 cups cooked wheat berries (cook accordingly to package directions)
3 cups quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup roughly chopped olives (black, green or a combination)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, preferably coarse
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place the wheat berries in a large mixing bowl, and add the tomatoes, onion, olives, scallions, parsley and mint. Toss to combine.
In a small bowl or container, place the olive oil, thyme, lemon juice, rice vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper. Stir or shake to combine well, then pour the dressing over the grain salad. Toss to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve at room temperature.
Nutrition information per serving: 212 calories; 70 calories from fat; 8 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 313 mg sodium; 31 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 6 g protein.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman