Roasting beets intensifies their natural sweetness, which provides a nice contrast to the earthiness of the wheat berries. Although there is a lot of chopping involved, there is ample opportunity to chop while the wheat berries are cooking and the beets are roasting.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 8 cups cold unsalted water
- 1 1/2 cups wheat berries
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 pound red beets, scrubbed, ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
- 4 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (may substitute dried cherries)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup Ginger-Curry Vinaigrette (see following recipe)
- 1/2 cup pecans, toasted (see NOTE) and coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Place the water and wheat berries in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the wheat berries are tender but still chewy, 30 to 35 minutes. (The only way to test them is to take one out and bite into it.) Drain the wheat berries in a colander and transfer to a bowl large enough to accommodate the entire salad. Drizzle the vinegar over the hot wheat berries and toss to combine. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, cut the beets in half. Place the beets on a baking sheet, drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with salt (about 1/4 teaspoon) and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat. Then turn the beets cut-side down (to get a nice brown side) on the sheet. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes, until the beets are easily pierced with a fork. Let the beets rest until they are cool enough to handle. Use a small paring knife to peel them, discarding the skin; cut the beets into 1/2-inch dice and set aside.
Scatter the onion, celery and cranberries over the wheat berries. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the salad and toss to combine. Drizzle about 1/2 cup of the Ginger-Curry Vinaigrette over the salad and toss it with a big spoon or your hands. Add additional vinaigrette as necessary. (May cover and refrigerate for up to several hours.)
Scatter the pecans and beets over the salad and toss gently to combine. (If you're going to wait a long time before serving it, wait to add the beets since they will stain the wheat berries and turn the salad purple.) Serve at room temperature or chilled.
From "Once Upon a Tart . . . Soups, Salads, Muffins, and More," written by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau with Carolynn Carreno (Knopf, 2003).
Tested by The Washington Post.
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