Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grain Salads

Rage, rage, against the dying of the summer... but I guess grain salads are always in season in Southern California.

I have the good fortune of living next door to the best supermarket in the world, where fresh herbs are
$0.20-$0.50 per big bunch, avocadoes are currently 4 for a dollar, and you can buy a kilo of really good kalamata olives for $9.99. Jons also sells big bags of grains for amazing prices. Wheat berries and bulghur abound! Since moving to my neighborhood, with its large Middle Eastern and eastern European populations, I’ve learned that bulghur comes in grades like sandpaper, from #1 (very fine) to #4 (very coarse). #3’s the best, I think.

So what to do with all these olives, fresh herbs, and grains?

Mediterranean Wheat Berry Salad

(adapted from The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics)

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon minced white part of green onion
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dried and crumbled oregano

4.5 cups water
2 cups wheat berries
2 bay leaves

1/3 cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives
1/3 cup drained capers (optional, can substitute more olives)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts*
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

* The pine nuts are really optional. When the recipe is made with wheat berries rather than barley, there's so much more texture already that the pine nuts don't add very much.

1. To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, pinch sea salt, vinegars, onion and olive oil in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. To prepare the salad, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the wheat berries with the tamari and bay leaves. Simmer until the berries are tender and all of the water is absorbed, 45 minutes to 1 hour total cooking time. Remove from heat and cool. Remove bay leaves.
3. Place the wheat berries in a large bowl, and stir in the dressing and oregano. Cover and chill for about 2 hours or until ready to serve. Before serving, gently stir in the olives, capers, and green onions. Garnish with pine nuts.

Another tabouleh recipe? It seems to me like all tabouleh recipes are very similar and yet the differences between them are rather important. The way I like to make it is heavier on the greens than the grains, and heavier on lemon than on garlic or onion. I think these aspects make it more refreshing.


1 c bulghur

1 bunch scallions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

½ to 1 c chopped tomatoes

1 c chopped mint leaves

1 c chopped parsley leaves

salt to taste

pepper to taste

juice of 2-3 lemons

Instructions: Prepare bulghur according to instructions (usually add two parts water to one part bulghur and let sit). Chop all the other ingredients while bulghur is "cooking." Toss together, add salt, pepper, and lemon to taste. Let sit for several hours before eating.

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