Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wheat Berry Salad with Figs and Red Onion

This is supposed to be a wheat berry salad, but my grocery store didn’t have wheat berries, so I made it with faro instead. I’m pretty sure you could also use barley as a grain, but you do want something heartier than couscous. I’m not sure what the deal is with red onions, though. Are people getting milder onions than I am? Or do I need to build up my tolerance? It seems like no matter how small I chop them, they always end up being too strong for my taste. I suggest soaking the onion before using it (its bite is less of a problem if the salad is coming straight from the fridge). I really liked this salad; it was hearty, fruity and crunchy, while remaining quite seasonal. You could use dates or apricots in this salad, too.

1 ½ cups wheat berries
¼ cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup or agave nectar, for a vegan version)
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dried figs, chopped finely
½ medium red onion, soaked in water for a few hours
3 large stalks celery
¼ cup good-quality olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 handful fresh parsley or mint, finely chopped
1 tsp flaky sea salt
freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Put the wheat berries in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and partially cover the pot. Cook for 45 minutes, or until the wheat berries are soft yet still chewy.

While the wheat berries are cooking, whisk the rice vinegar, orange juice, and honey together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the raisins and chopped figs. Turn off the heat and let the fruit steep in the juice and vinegar mixture.

Finely dice the red onion; you will end up with between 1 and 1 ½ cups. Finely dice the celery as well; you will have between 1 ½ and 2 cups. Mix them in a large bowl.

When the wheat berries are tender enough to be chewed easily, drain them, then pour them into the large bowl with the red onion and celery. Toss with the olive oil and lemon zest. Add the vinegar and juice mixture, and all the fruit, and mix. Toss with the almonds, chopped parsley or mint, and with the salt. Add pepper to taste.

Let the salad stand at room temperature for at least one hour before serving, to allow the flavors mix and soak into the grain. Serve warm or at room temperature. The salad can also be refrigerated for up to three days.


malt_soda said...

Reminds me of this judge on chopped. He HATES raw red onions, and 2 doofus chefs put them in their dishes 2 rounds in a row, despite him telling them he doesn't like them after the first round. I hear that you can mellow the flavour of onions by soaking them, but I've never tried this.

Amélie said...

I tried it before for another recipe, and it does work. I think there might be something else, like the exact species of red onion or the time of the year when it is harvested, that might affect how sharp it is. I've had some before that were fine, but this was too much for me.