Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blue Dog Bakery & Café-Inspired Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 8-10
Husband-Tested Recipe from Alice’s Kitchen

My husband and I recently had a very pleasant lunch at the Blue Dog Bakery & Café in Louisville, KY.  It was a lovely day, so we sat outside on the walk and watched the trains go by.  The meal was fabulous, sharing an incredibly delicious tuna salad, a soup featuring sweet corn and poblano peppers and a fancy summer berry cream tart, but the star of the lunch was the wheat berry salad.  As I ate it, I wrote down all the ingredients I could see and taste.  The waitress did say that it had walnut oil in it.  She also said that they vary the dried fruit.  Ours that day had raisins.  Friends of ours said they’ve had it with currants.  I love dried cranberries, so I used those.  Later on, I made a quick trip to Lost River Market & Deli for some winter wheat berries (from their bulk section) and made what I think is a very close version of Blue Dog’s salad.  It takes a bit of time to make because wheat berries take over an hour to cook, but once the berries are cooked, the salad comes together quickly.  Make this a day before you plan to serve it because it will taste even better the next day.  Perfect for a party or a picnic.

3 cups cooked wheat berries* (About 1 cup raw.)
2 cups (10 ounces) frozen lima beans, cooked per package directions
1/8 cup walnut oil
6 Tablespoons sunflower or canola oil
1/8 cup raspberry wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or currants (Plump the dried fruit in very hot water for about 15 minutes.)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2 cups diced celery
1 shallot, minced or 1 cup sliced scallions
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the warm, cooked and drained wheat berries in a large bowl. The wheat berries should be soft, but slightly chewy. After draining the lima beans, add them to the wheat berries and toss to combine. Combine walnut oil, sunflower oil and vinegar. Add to the winter berry/lima bean mixture. Toss. When bean mixture has cooled a bit, add the dried fruit, walnuts, celery and shallots. Toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*Cooking Winter Wheat Berries using the Rice Cooker:  Place 1 cup of raw wheat berries in a dry skillet over medium-high heat.  Toast, stirring constantly, until the grains pop and deepen in color, about 4 minutes.  (This step is optional, but I think it adds a nice toasty flavor.)  Place the wheat berries in the rice cooker bowl and cover with hot water; let soak in the machine for 1 hour.  Drain the wheat berries and return them to the rice cooker bowl.  Add 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt; swirl to combine.  Close the cover and set for the regular/Brown Rice cycle.  When the machine switches to the Keep Warm cycle, let the wheat berries steam for 15 minutes. Fluff with a wooden spoon or rice paddle. (Recipe from The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook, also Husband-Tested)  

*Cooking Winter Wheat Berries using the Stovetop:  Add 1 cup of winter wheat berries to a large saucepan filled with enough salted water to cover them by a few inches.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially cover and cook the wheat berries until they are plump and tender, about 75 to 90 minutes.  Test as you cook; cooked wheat berries are still somewhat chewy.  Drain. (Also Husband-Tested)  

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