Friday, April 22, 2011

Wheat Berry Pilaf with Roasted Eggplant and Cashews

Ever since I started making the ol' Mediterranean wheat berry salad, I have really loved wheat berries.  They're perhaps the only whole grain I find as texturally satisfying (whoa, say that carefully) as pasta.  High in protein and fiber, too, they make me very sad for gluten-intolerant people. 

I've had this unusual pilaf from holy cow in my "to try" file for ages, and the other day, when I made the lemony legume soup, it was finally time.  Like the soup, this dish was built on certain Indian flavors (mustard seeds, cashews, raisins) but with quite the unorthodox twist.  I try to keep my consumption of inflammatory nightshade veggies (like eggplant and tomato) to a minimum, but sometimes I cannot resist their deliciousness.  The roasted eggplant was delicious, and between that and the chewy wheat berries, crunchy cashews, and refreshing tomatoes, it was quite a texture fiesta. I omitted the rosemary and raisins that Vaishali's recipe originally called for, but it was still a very unusual dish.  I found myself hankering for a little more acidity in it, though, to balance out the savory, toasty flavors of the wheat berries, eggplant, toasted cashews, and mustard.  The tomatoes weren't quite enough--I'd like to try adding some lemon or lime juice as well.  An avocado would also be a great addition.

Wheat Berry Pilaf with Roasted Eggplant and Cashews
(from holy cow)

1 c wheat berries
1 medium eggplant, 3/4-in dice
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garlic powder (next time, I'd try real minced garlic)
salt to taste
2 tsp vegetable oil, like canola
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 TB cashew nuts, chopped
1 tsp garam masala powder or curry powder
4 small tomatoes or two medium ones, cut into pieces
lemon or lime juice to taste
salt to taste

1. Cook the wheatberries until soft but not broken open.  Drain and set aside.
2. In a baking dish, toss together the eggplant, 1 tsp oil, cayenne, turmeric and garlic powder.  Place in a 400-degree oven and bake, stirring occasionally or until the eggplant is really creamy and tender (this took me 25-30 min). 
3. Heat the remaining oil in a skillet.  Add the mustard seeds and, when they crackle, add the cashew nuts.  Toast until they begin to just color. Add garam masala and toss to heat through.
4. Now add the cooked wheat berries and eggplant and stir well to mix. Add salt to taste. Turn off heat.
5. Stir in the tomatoes, and sprinkle with lemon or lime juice.  Serves about 4.

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