I spent a few desperate hours in Berlin last year. I was wet and cold and miserable the whole time because of poor planning. It rained so hard I ended up wandering the aisles of Primark at Alexanderplatz looking for an umbrella. I also got an “I love Berlin” tote from Primark, which gives me a chuckle now when I tote it around.
The most memorable part of the trip was a conversation with a complete stranger. We met a woman at the airport’s train station, who turned out to be blessing in helping us navigate the Berlin subway. She’d come from Dublin to join an anti-TTIP protest (free trade agreement between EU & US). Naturally, we chatted; for a long while actually, even when it came time to part ways, we stood on the platform talking. Somewhere between the impact of GMO foods and the fairy tales fountain at Volkspark, wheat came up; she grinds her own flour from wheat berries and I mentioned I make a mean chickpea wheat berry salad and breakfast.
Now I can’t think of wheat berries without thinking about her, and wonder what it’s like to still trust in your passion to effect change.
We’ve eaten well this summer. We try as much as possible to eat of the bounty from our local farms. Summer is perfect for that; and for straight-from-the-farm inspired salads like this. This is a great example of turning our local harvest into a colourful medley of deliciousness. Last year we found this great little shop supplying exceptional grains and legumes carefully sourced from Canadian farmers, it felt like kismet.
We’re basically eating salads all summer long, we just use whatever fresh and vibrant produce we find at the market. Last weekend there were heaps of cauliflower, new potatoes and peas, all grown on the market’s farm, we ate them roasted and drenched in a fiery tahini vinaigrette.
The thing I like about this particular salad is that it’s nourishing as it is filling, thanks to protein-rich chickpeas and high-fibre wheat berries. It’s also one of those easily customizable salads, once you have your wheat berries and chickpea base ready. Both can be cooked ahead of time; use whatever vegetables you like or are in season. Avocadoes, kale, roasted or pickled beets, zucchini, fresh peas or board beans will work wonderfully in this salad. Don’t forget to add some fruits as well; it’s cooling and adds a little sweetness. Don’t forget the nuts either, I get lime and saffron spiced cashews from a cool nut store close to my house. It’s all then finished off with a generous pour of a simple creamy mustard vinaigrette.
And the best part is there’s always plenty leftover for our lunch for the week.
- 1/4 white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or to taste
- 1 cup wheat berries
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1/2 cup chopped red onions
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup cooked sweet corn
- 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 cup halved grapes
- 1 cup chopped strawberries
- 1 cup cucumber
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- Handful of baby spinach
- 1 cup toasted nuts (I used saffron and lime roasted cashews)
- To make vinaigrette, blend vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, garlic, pepper, olive oil and salt in a blender until smooth, taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired
- Cook wheat berries by combining them with water, vinegar, bay leaf and salt in a large pot over medium-high heat
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook covered until wheat berries are soft but chewy, about 35 – 40 minutes
- Check and stir occasionally while wheat berries are cooking, and if all the liquid gets absorbed before the wheat berries are done, add a little more water (in 1/4 cup increments)
- Drain, discard bay leaf and let wheat berries cool
- In a large mixing bowl, combine onions, tomatoes, carrots, bell pepper, grapes, strawberries, cucumber and spinach
- Add lemon juice, pinch of salt, spinach and toasted nuts, and mix
- Just before serving, add 1/2 – 3/4 of vinaigrette (or as much or as little as you want) and toss to coat
- Vinaigrette can be made 1 day ahead and kept in the fridge. Stir before using.