For today’s “unconventional” grains prompt, I wanted to make a freekeh salad from Vegan for Everybody, but freekeh was no longer available in my local Whole Foods’ bulk section. So I picked up some wheat berries instead.
The last time I attempted to experiment with this grain, they turned out very dry and firm and just generally not tasty. But America’s Test Kitchen has a good track record of explaining how to make this kind of thing right, so I followed their advice and made the wheat berry salad with spinach and oranges (+ red onion, chickpeas, mint, and a zesty sherry vinaigrette). It turns out the secret has something to do with precisely how well-salted the cooking water is: they say it’s 1½ teaspoons of salt, no more, no less, to a full 4-quart kettle of water.
Though the resulting grain is not soft enough to substitute the usual rice and quinoa, it was tender and chewy enough to make up the base of a tasty entree-type salad. And while the recipe didn’t suggest doing so, I opted to combine the dressing, spinach, and wheat berries (which I’d made ahead and refrigerated) in a warm metal bowl over boiling water to heat these components and–most importantly–gently wilt the spinach.
It’s a simple recipe and, once you’ve cooked the grains, it comes together in a snap. Chalk it up to another win for that cookbook.