If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw that I was in Copenhagen last week. It was a trip I hesitated taking for reasons that seem ridiculous now because it ended up being one of the best trips in recent times. I was gone for an amazing few short days, each filled with wonderful adventures and exploration. I can’t wait to share photos, recommendations and anecdotes from my visit.
In the meantime, let’s get into some good food, I was supposed to post this before my trip but didn’t, just like the last time I went away. This is a simple flavour-packed hearty melange of wheat berries, kale and butter beans sautéed together in a little bit of olive oil with kale and onions and spices.
I like light and cheerful meals like these for this time of the season; it’s filling on its own for lunch, you can bring it to a picnic or potluck, or make it a part of a nice evening meal. I came to this recipe flipping through an old issue of Bon Appétit. Intrigued by the simplicity of wheat berries and kale together, I knew it needed a legume or nut for a bit of oomph.
Butter beans brings heft to the dish; it adds a boost of protein and fibre, making it a complete meal.
Dried mature butter beans, also called lima beans, when cooked has a rich buttery flavour which pairs well with plump chewy wheat berries.
The wheat berries and beans simmered in liquid with garlic, chili pepper (wheat berries) and bay leaf (beans), makes a seasoned broth-like bath for flavouring them.
Of course you could use canned beans, but this dish is certainly worth the effort of cooking your beans from scratch because you get that rich creamy texture that is sometimes lost with canned beans. I like use gigantes beans (giant butter beans) in this recipe – last summer we traversed the city in search of gigantes beans for a tomato-ey baked beans dish we wanted to make. We fell in love with its heft and delicate deep flavour and knew it’ll work well in salads and creations like these. Use gigantes if you can find them but I’m thinking it would be fun to experiment with different varieties of legumes as well. Similarly, you can swap out wheat berries for rice, quinoa, couscous, barley and other grains.
I’m making a list of dishes to prepare for a small picnic we’re having this Canada Day weekend – I want to make this wheat berries again, this time with a variety of black gigantes beans a friend gifted me, they’re grown in a lakeside town in Northern Greece, a place that sounds incredibly idyllic.
- 1 cup wheat berries
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, optional
- 1 small red chili pepper, optional
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup dried butter/lima beans or gigantes beans, picked over and soaked overnight - optional or 2 15-oz canned butter beans, drained
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 small dried bay leaf
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt or to taste
- 2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped roughly
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- In a large pot, combine wheat berries with water, vinegar, garlic, pepper and salt, cook over 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 garlic and pepper and set aside
- Rinse beans place in a large pot, cover with about 2 1/2 inches water and add garlic and bay leaf
- Cook over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and let beans cook for about 10 – 15 minutes
- Reduce heat and let beans simmer until tender (but not bursting), about 35 – 40 minutes
- Add salt, cook for another 5 or so minutes and turn off heat,
- Drain beans when ready to use, remove and discard garlic and bay leaf
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or skillet
- Stir in mustard seeds and cumin and cook for about a minute until the seeds start popping
- Add onions and garlic and sauté, stirring often for about 2 minutes until onions soften and become fragrant
- Add kale and stir occasionally until kale starts to wilt
- Add in wheat berries and beans, toss gently to mix and let cook covered for 4 - 5 minutes under low heat
- Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired
- Add lemon juice and serve warm