More and more I find myself surrounded by family and friends with varying levels of intolerance to gluten, so I was a little trepidatious about posting a recipe that so blatantly celebrates wheat like this one does. Ultimately, I decided that I can’t please everyone, and this salad is super delicious, so here we go. But fear not, glut-a-phobes, I think that a sturdy grain like barley or even a short grain brown rice could replace the wheat berries easily enough.
We packed this salad with us camping on the West coast of Sweden, and it lasted incredibly well all weekend in the cooler. I was still eating it the day after we got back home to Stockholm.
I’ll admit, I’m not 100% sure that I actually used wheat berries here. I picked up a box on one of my Stockholm supermarket adventures of something that said matvete on the front, which translates literally to food wheat. A quick internet search with the help of Google Translate suggests that matvete is wheat that has had a small portion of the outer husk removed, and can be used in place of rice, potatoes, or pasta. I’m just going to go ahead and assume that what I used was indeed wheat berries, or maybe farro. In any case, it was tasty, had a nice chewy texture, and held up well in this salad.
Eggplant, diced into little cubes and sautéed with garlic and olive oil until golden, added considerable body, and the caramelized sweetness was a nice juxtaposition to the tang of the dressing and the saltiness of feta cheese. The dressing is a simple Greek salad style dressing that I learned a zillion years ago when I worked at a neighbourhood grocery store that had a small deli. Most of the salads we sold came out of buckets, but one of the girls who worked there would sometimes whip up a Greek salad, and she taught me this dressing. This version is still pretty simple, spruced up only by the addition of some lemon zest, and a good quality extra virgin olive oil. All grown up now, ya know?
Wheatberry Salad with Eggplant Recipe:
Cook the wheat berries according to package direction – my package called for 2 parts wheat berries to 3 1/2 part cold water brought to a boil, then reduced and simmered for 15 min. There was some water that had not been absorbed at the end of the cooking time, but the grains seemed chewy and cooked, so I strained it off. You’ll want the grains to be a little al dente so they will absorb the dressing and not become mushy.
2 cups uncooked wheat berries
1 medium eggplant, diced into small cubes
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
125g feta, crumbled or diced
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 tsp of dry or 2 Tbsp fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
Cook wheat berries according to package direction, set aside to cool. Slice eggplant and sprinkle with salt, let sit for 10 min or so, then rinse, and dice into small cubes (say, 1/2 inch cubes). In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil, and toss the eggplant and minced garlic in. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is golden brown. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl combine the juice and rind of 1 lemon with 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil, dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine cooled wheat berries with eggplant, onion, tomato, and feta in a large bowl. Pour half of the dressing over top and toss to combine. You can decide whether this is enough dressing for you, or if would prefer to use it all – remember, the grains will absorb quite a lot of dressing.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2010