Grains for Your Brain is sponsoring this post on behalf of the Grain Foods Foundation, a joint venture of members for the baking and milling industries and allied suppliers. The site is full of recipes and packed with information about all varieties of whole grains.
Wheatberry salads are one of my favorite multipurpose dishes. Serve a wheatberry salad for breakfast (with yogurt, banana and walnuts), lunch (with sweet potatoes, black beans and salsa) or for dinner (with wild salmon, spinach and olives). Change your flavors to match the seasons as well – this version is the ultimate Fall salad and features butternut squash, cranberries, pomegranate arils and arugula with a maple-Dijon dressing.
Wheatberries form the backbone of this hearty salad. Look for them in store bulk bins as Hard Red Winter Wheat. Wheatberries are the hard, rice-like kernels of the wheat plant. They are a whole grain containing the bran, germ and endosperm, and if you mill them they turn into whole wheat flour. We buy huge bags of them for our bakery and mill them in the store daily so our whole wheat flour is as fresh as can be. I used to cook a batch to stir into oatmeal, yogurt and the like but I got out of the habit. I miss the days when I had a lot more time in the kitchen!
To prepare the Ultimate Fall Wheatberry Salad, you’ll first want to cook your wheatberries. There are multiple ways to transform them from hard pellets into soft, chewy grains, and I detail my quick cooking method in this post. Soaking them overnight will speed up the cooking process. The bottom line is to simmer them until they are tender much like you would cook pasta until al dente.
I brought home a giant butternut squash for this recipe – about 2.5 pounds work! Toss the chopped butternut squash in seasonings: olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
Line a pan in foil and then cover the squash to ensure trap the steam for the first 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, uncover and add the cranberries. Stir them around and put the whole pan back in the oven for another 15.
A short while later they are tender and juicy ready to toss into a salad
While the cranberries and squash roast, prepare your dressing and toss with the wheatberries to evenly coat. This dressing is a little bit sweet from the maple syrup, a little spiced from the Dijon mustard and a little tart from the lemon juice. I love rosemary in every salad dressing. Add a clove to garlic if you like more kick!
Then add as many delicious flavors as you like –
Pom seeds, arugula… toss toss toss
You can serve this slightly warm immediately or allow to cool in the fridge. It should keep for a few days, so you’ll have lunches for the week or a side dish to feed a crowd!
Feel free to make this recipe exactly or customize it as much as you want with sweet potatoes, walnuts, raisins, goat cheese and more.
The Ultimate Fall Wheatberry Salad
- 2 cups dried wheatberries (known as Hard Red Winter Wheat)
- 1 large butternut squash, about 2.5 pounds, peeled, deseeded and diced into cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1.5 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 cup pomegranate arils
- 3 cups arugula or baby spinach
For the dressing
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (or fresh if you have it!)
Fill a large pot with water and a 1 teaspoon kosher salt and wheatberries. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a low simmer for 1 hour, until wheatberries are tender enough to chew. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400*.
Toss cubed squash with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Line a pan with foil and fill with squash. Cover with more foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove squash, uncover and add 2 cups cranberries. Bake for another 15 minutes, until squash is fork-tender and berries have softened.
Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients in a jar and shaking well.
Coat wheatberries with dressing. Toss to combine.
Add squash and cranberries, pom arils, and arugula and toss everything well.
Serve slightly warm, room temp or chilled.
This post was sponsored by the Grain Foods Foundation.