If 2014 was the year of complication, then I hereby declare 2015 the year of simplicity. Simpler words and more time for the things we love to do. Run, cook, read, walk, love. Joy is my goal this year and I'm well on the way so far - I'm looking forward to sharing a lighter sentiment this year as I attempt to lighten up a little. Body, mind & spirit. Here we go :)
This recipe is inspired by my appreciation and love of whole grains. Wheat Berries are beautifully nutritious and when cooked like pasta, make a deliciously nutty base for a lovely textural salad. They are relatively inexpensive and keep for a long time too, making them an easy item to add to your pantry list.
I stumbled upon this recipe accidentally, after attempting to re-create this tasty salad that my girlfriend makes often for our dinner party potlucks. I was certain the recipe called for vinegar (it didn't), and while I was out of apple cider vinegar, I had plenty of strong rice vinegar on hand. The results of cooking grains in vinegar instead of cider? Amazing texture and a crazy bright infusion of taste. This concentration may be a little strong for some tastes (in which case I suggest dialling back the vinegar a tad and replacing with water), but if you like intensity (and an excuse to stay light on extra seasonings) - this may surprise you as it did me. Cook your beans from scratch for an even greater contrast in texture and taste.
I'd love to know what you think :-) Have a wonderful week friends!
Super Chickpea + Wheat Berry Veggie Salad:
- (1) cup whole wheat berries
- (1) cup rice vinegar
- (1) cup water
- (1/2) tsp salt
- (1/3) cup whole almonds, roasted
- (1) cup cooked Super chickpeas (or any chickpeas)
- (1) cup julienned raw carrots
- (1/2) cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- (1/4) cup red onion, diced (reserve a few slices for garnish)
- (2) tbsp olive oil
- Avocado to serve (1/4 avocado per serving)
- Black pepper as desired
This recipe requires cooked chickpeas, and I highly recommend this to ensure the best tasting final product. At home, we've been using these Super chickpeas from Saskatchewan, and they are easily the best tasting garbanzos I've ever had (so much so I started a business around them). To cook, simply soak for 8-24 hours in cold water, then rinse, drain, and cook in plenty of boiling water (and a pinch or two of your favourite salt) until tender, about 45-60 minutes. I cook chickpeas in batches and freeze them in 2 cup portions, which makes easy work when I need them in a pinch.
To make the salad, start by combining the whole wheat berries in a pot with the water and rice vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a rolling boil. Cook in the covered pan for 40 minutes, or until the wheat berries are tender soft. Stir the mixture every once in a while to ensure the water levels are good and if the water gets low, simply add it in 1/4 cup increments as needed.
While the wheat berries simmer, dry toast the whole almonds in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes or so, until dark and fragrant (careful not to burn them). Chop the carrots, cilantro, and red onion and add to a bowl. Add to this the cooked chickpeas and the cooled toasted almonds. When the wheat berries are cooked, drain them in a colander and let them sit for 5 minutes or so to cool a little. When ready, add to the vegetables, nuts and beans and toss with the olive oil (I used a basil infused olive oil for this and it was magnificent). Add the salt & pepper as desired and taste to adjust seasonings.
To serve, add a few slices of avocado and perhaps some feta if you desire. This recipe will serve 4-6 as a side and 2-3 as a hearty lunch.