After my California trip, I was ready to come home to sunshine, asparagus and English peas… Instead, I was welcomed by rain, temperatures back in the 30ºs and more of the same at the market. Not be a be a total bore and keep mentioning the weather, but this was not quite what I had in mind.
To make the most of it, I decided to make one last winter salad. The hearty grain kind that I can keep in the fridge for a few days, and have it for lunch while we wait out this (please let it be the last) cold-snap.
We know that beets and carrots are a great match, and since they are some of the few things in the produce section that I have yet to tire of, I thought they would make a nice starting point for this salad. I decided to use golden beets, knowing this salad will likely sit refrigerator for a few days, and their color does not bleed the way red beets do. As for the prep, they were roasted and cubed, but I kept the carrots raw – you know, with spring *being here* and all.
In another nod to winter, I used “winter wheatberries” that were in the pantry, but you could easily substitute any other grain you have on hand. Wild rice would also be great, as I think the nuttiness and texture (of both wild rice and wheatberries) add a nice balance to the mix.
And to jazz it all up, I added a diced granny smith apple, dried cranberries and a quick cumin vinaigrette. Just because it is still cold (or rather again – I missed the few days of sunshine), things don’t need to be dreary.
So we ended up with a mix that is earthy (beets), tart (apple), sweet (cranberries), crunchy (carrots and apple), chewy (wheatberries and cranberries) and smoky (cumin). Whew!
Not bad for (please) final winter lunch.
Wheatberry Salad with Beets, Carrots and Apple1 c. winter wheatberries kosher salt 3 golden beets 1 bunch small carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 c. when diced – this amount is flexible) 1 granny smith apple, cored and diced ½ lemon ½ c. dried cranberries – –
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Remove beet tops and wrap beets individually in foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and when cool to touch, use the foil as an abrasive to peel beets. Set aside. (You can substitute your favorite method to peel and roast beets – have a better way, please share!)
In the meantime, bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium pot. Add a good pinch of salt and wheatberries, reduce heat and let simmer, uncovered until wheatberries are softened and tender (but chewy), about 45 minutes.
While beets are roasting and wheatberries cooking, peel and chop carrots. Chop apple, and immediately toss with juice from half a lemon. (I even rub the lemon half on the first large cuts to and continue to squeeze juice over any new cuts – you want to stop the oxidation and browning before it starts).
Make dressing (see below).
When beets are cool, chop into 1″ pieces, and combine with carrots and apples.
When the wheatberries are cooked, drain and place in a large bowl. Add fruits and vegetables and toss with dressing while still warm. Warm grains absorb dressing and flavor better than when cool. Add dried cranberries and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
I didn’t pay attention when I made the dressing, so I am not even going to pretend with the amounts. I kept it pretty lightly dressed though as there are lots of flavors in the mix, so I would say the amount of dressing I made totaled ¼ cup, maybe a bit more. Also, I prefer things a bit puckery, so I use equal amounts vinegar and oil – which is a lot more vinegar than most recipes. Play around and get comfortable. Making your own dressings (for grain or green salads) is what makes them great, in my book.
Olive oil red wine vinegar dijon mustard honey cumin kosher salt freshly ground pepper – –
Combine reasonable amounts to taste; dress salad.