This is the second of three recipes I made for Cheryl‘s book signing at Leigh’s Favorite Books. I almost didn’t make this one because as good as it sounded, I thought it would be overly ambitious to make three things.
I went ahead and made up some wheat berries just in case I changed my mind – which I did. And I’m glad! It was a big hit at the event. A surprising number of people have never eaten or even seen wheat berries.
One woman lamented that she doesn’t have a kitchen where she lives, but did you know that you can use a rice cooker to cook whole grains? A pressure cooker works, too – it’s what I use, and it takes 35 minutes once it’s at full pressure. I don’t soak the berries before I cook them and they turn out perfect.
This is also a perfect recipe to make quickly if you have a scale, since weights are included (metric, even!). I just put the bowl on the scale, and hit the tare button after adding each ingredient. Couldn’t be easier, and cleanup is almost zero.
The salad was a big hit, and when I got home I still had some of the components left, so I made myself another one for my dinner. And I had seconds.
There’s been a lot of hype about Ripe, written by Cheryl and photographed by Paulette Phlipot. It’s well-deserved. This is a book with beautiful images, and the recipes are simple and well-written but flavorful. Cheryl’s writing is light and fun to read, too. If you’re not sure you need another cookbook, go check it out from your local library and make a few of the recipes – you’re likely to decide this book needs a place on your bookshelf. And if your library doesn’t have it, ask them to buy it!
Fig and Wheat Berry Salad with Blue Cheese
When fresh Mission figs show up in markets, make this pretty and filling purple grain salad. In the off season, substitute dried figs for the fresh. (You wonâ€™t get the same bold color contrast, but it will still be delicious.)
Serves 6 as a side or 4 for lunch
3 cups (470g) cooked wheat berries (see Tip below)
1/2 pound (227g) mesclun (about 6 cups), loosely packed*
3/4 pound (340g) Mission figs (about 14 figs), stemmed and quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (40g) blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup (30g) toasted, chopped pecans, optional
Place the cooked, cooled wheat berries in a large, shallow serving bowl. Toss in the mesclun. Lay the figs decoratively on top. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk the oil, vinegar, and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle half over the salad and toss through. Sprinkle with the cheese and pecans, if using. Toss again, taste, and add additional dressing, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your desired level of flavor and moistness. Serve immediately, at room temperature, passing any additional dressing alongside.
*Feel free to substitute arugula, mixed herbs, torn lacinato kale, or even baby spinach for the mesclun.
Tip: To cook wheat berries, soak 2 cups (224g) hard red winter wheat berries for several hours or overnight. (I generally skip this step, but it purportedly eases digestion.) Strain, place in a deep saucepan, add 1 teaspoon salt, cover with 7 cups (2 liters) cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a steady simmer, covered, for about 1 hour, or until al dente. Drain and rinse. (Makes 5 cups, or 785g. Freeze any you donâ€™t use in the salad.)
Recipes reprinted with permission from RIPE Â© 2012 by Cheryl Sternman Rule, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group. Photography Â© 2012 by Paulette Phlipot.
- Fig & Wheat Berry Salad with Blue Cheese (Ripe, p. 248)