Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Virtue in a Bowl

So, I didn't plan it for this reason, but this salad was an inspired choice for tonight. We have had a rather heavy start to the week what with bangers and mash and then macaroni and cheese ... lordy. So, a virtuous whole grain salad was just the ticket.

I was planning on making a salad like this, and then I heard a great story about whole grains on Good Food (a wonderful radio show on KCRW - do yourself a favor and podcast it), and then I read a great story about a barley salad on Smitten Kitchen. So really, it was Kismet, this salad. I used wheatberries, because that's what I had, but you could use another grain like barley, cracked wheat, brown rice or even a small pasta (like orzo or ditalini).

Wheatberry Salad
  • 1 1/2 cups wheatberries, cooked
  • 1 eggplant, cubed small (see pics below)
  • 1 red pepper, roasted and chopped (or use some jarred roasted peppers)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • handful fennel fronds, chopped
  • handful parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (If you don't have any of this stuff, buy some. But in the meantime, use 1 tablespoon of honey and use 3 tablespoons of vinegar instead of 2.)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, toss the cubed eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put the eggplant on a sheet pan and roast for 10-15 minutes until well browned and soft. Set aside.

Put the wheatberries into a large bowl and with the rest of the salad ingredients.

Take a small jar and put all the dressing ingredients in. Shake-shake-shake to blend. Toss the dressing in with the salad. Check the seasoning for salt and acid. If it's too sharp add more oil, not sharp enough add more vinegar ... you get the drill.

Yield: 4-6 main dish servings, depending on the type of grain you choose.

Prepping your eggplant:

Cube size is less important than consistency - the cubes need to be the same size so they. I find it easiest to "dress" the cubes with oil if I stir them in with the oil and salt and pepper in a bowl. Then I throw them onto the sheet pan.

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