It's the bright and cheery lunch you need to power through your day.

By Emily Fiffer
March 13, 2020
Caitlin Bensel

Sorry, quinoa, there's a new nutrient-dense grain in town: wheat berries. Technically, these chewy bits are whole wheat kernels with their inedible husks removed and bran and germ left intact. Since there is no refinement, wheat berries are a whole grain that's jam-packed with nutrients. (Did you know that whole grain consumption is linked with a longer life expectancy?)

Case in point: One cup of cooked wheat berries contains 11 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein, in addition to 18 percent of your daily recommended allowance of iron. (And if you're sick of farro, try one of these ancient grains.)

Because of its slightly nutty flavor profile and unique texture, this grain deserves more attention than a brown rice side dish—and that's just what this wheat berry salad recipe does. With crisp asparagus, bright lemons, and tart pomegranate seeds, this salad looks (and tastes) like Spring. The wheat berries are essential to this dish, however, as their sturdiness allows them to hold the flavor and texture of the herby vinaigrette well and helps bring the salad all together.

Ready to get cooking? Pro tip: Make sure you soak the wheat berries (or any other grain, for that matter) ahead of time, which will cut the cooking time in half and make them easier to digest. Put them in a mason jar, and cover them with water the night before you plan on making your meal, then drain them before cooking the next day. (And if you love this wheat berry salad, you won't be able to get enough of these satisfying grain-based salads.)

Jeweled Asparagus & Wheat Berry Salad

Start to Finish: 1 hour 5 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Salad and Asparagus

  • 1 3/4 cups raw wheat berries (4 cups cooked)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 small lemons, very thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 bunches asparagus (2 pounds), ends trimmed
  • 2 cups parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dill, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 3/4 cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 3 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced on the bias

Dressing

  • 3/4 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1/2 small shallot, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine wheat berries, 10 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until wheat berries are soft, 45 to 60 minutes. Drain well, and let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss sliced lemon rounds with 1 teaspoon oil on the prepared baking sheet, and spread in a single layer. Roast until lemon slices are caramelized, watching carefully toward the end and flipping halfway through, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool, then finely chop 8 slices. Keep remaining slices whole.
  3. Increase oven to 400°F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until bright green and crisp tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. To make the dressing, in a blender or food processor, pulse the cilantro, shallot, lime juice, honey, cumin, and coriander until finely chopped. With the motor running, pour in the olive oil in a slow stream. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Scrape the dressing into a medium bowl. Add the cooked wheat berries, chopped roasted lemon, parsley, dill, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and scallions. Season with salt, and toss to combine.
  6. Arrange asparagus on the bottom of a platter. Spoon wheat berry salad over asparagus. Garnish with remaining roasted lemon slices. Drizzle with olive oil, and serve.
Source: Shape Magazine, March 2020 issue
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