Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fall Fest: Wheat Berry Salad with Apples and Pomegranates

Last week, San Diego had a record-breaking heat wave. This week it's chilly, overcast drizzly days. I wasn't convinced at all last week that I could create a fall salad for Fall Fest, but I'm certainly in the mood now.

In with my favorite honey crisp apples. In with those classically aphrodisiac pomegranates. It looks like peaches and berries are a just glance over the shoulder now.

I first discovered wheat berries -- which are the entire unprocessed wheat kernel -- about 10 or so years ago when I attended a Canadian travel conference in Pasadena. The event featured a luncheon prepared by Canadian chefs. The first course was a crunchy wheat berry salad and I was in love. Back then it wasn't easy to find wheat berries, and no one that I came across really knew how to cook them. Follow the directions on labels and you could be boiling them for hours.

Not necessary. Instead of a 3-to-1 ratio of water to grains which I've seen on package labels, I do 2-to-1 with the typical bring to a boil, cover and simmer routine. After an hour, they've got a nice bite and are ready to go.

Today, I combined the berries with apples, pomegranates, a jalapeno, and toasted walnuts. It's got a little sweetness, a little tartness, some mild heat, crunch, and a rich autumn flavor.

Wheat Berry Salad with Apples and Pomegranate Seeds
(printable recipe)
Serves 6

1 cup wheat berries
2 cups chicken stock (or water)
1/2 cup walnuts (halves or pieces)
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
1 crisp apple, skin on, chopped
3 scallions, both green and white parts, sliced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine wheat berries and chicken stock in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for an hour. After an hour most of the liquid should be absorbed and the wheat berries should have an al dente bite to them.
2. While the wheat berries are cooking, toast the walnut pieces in the oven or a toaster oven. Remove when slightly brown and let cool.
3. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate (Fill a medium-size bowl with water, break the fruit apart, and pull the seeds out, letting them drop into the water. The seeds will sink to the bottom and the rest of the fibrous material that separates the seeds will float to the top; discard the floaters, and drain the seeds into a colander to dry.)
4. Add olive oil to a saute pan, heat, then add the garlic, onion, and jalapeno. Saute for about 5 minutes until the onions just start to turn color. Add a little more oil and the balsamic vinegar. Keep over the heat briefly as you stir to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. In a large bowl, add the cooked wheat berries, the walnuts, apples, pomegranate seeds, scallions, and cooked onions/garlic/chile. Mix well. Let sit for about an hour to let the flavors come together. Taste and adjust seasonings. You may want to add more vinegar, salt, or pepper. Then serve.

So, let's see what other salads are included in this week's Fall Fest:

Michelle at Cooking Channel: 5 Fab Fall Salads
Liz at Healthy Eats: 5 Favorite Fall Salads
Alison at Food2: Fall Salads, Deconstructed
Gilded Fork: Red & White Salad with Candied Pears, Figs & Chevre
Caroline at Caroline at the Wright Recipes: Salt-Roasted Beet and Potato Salad
Margaret at A Way to Garden: Why Beets Make the Salad
Cate at SweetNicks: Bleu Cheese and Walnut Salad with Maple Dressing
Paige at the Sister Project: Chopped Salad That's Also an Hors D'Ouevre 
Nicole at Pinch My Salt: Spinach Pomegranate Salad with Apples and Walnuts
Alana at Eating From the Ground Up: Kale Salad
Todd and Diane at White on Rice Couple: Arugula Salad with Figs and Bacon

Now It's Your Turn to Join Fall Fest 2010!
This collaborative effort won't be much fun without you! The more info we all give, the more we'll all enjoy fall's harvest. Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? You can contribute in various ways, big or small.
  • Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. 
  • Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog any upcoming Wednesday, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.
The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and then we're all cooking with some great ideas. Or go big: Publish entire posts of your own if you wish, and grab the big Fall Fest 2010 pumpkin badge above (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites). We'll also be tweeting using #fallfood as our hashtag. Here's the schedule:
Sept. 1: Sweet and Spicy Peppers
Sept. 8: Garlic
Sept. 15: White (or colorful “white”…but not sweet) Potatoes
Sept. 22: Spinach
Sept. 29: Apples
Oct. 6: Fall Salads
Oct. 13: Pumpkin and Winter Squash
Oct. 20: Pears
Oct. 27: “Mad Stash” (as in what you’re freezing/canning/drying, etc.)
Nov. 3: Root veggies
Nov. 10: Brassicas: incl. Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage or other
Nov. 17: Sweet Potatoes
Nov. 24: Bounty to Be Grateful For

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  1. That sounds so robust and hearty, it can also make a great packed lunch for work unlike delicate, leafy salads.
    Here are some ideas to top fall salads

  2. This looks great! I wanted to do a grain salad also for fall fest, but ended up with something different. I'll have to try this one.
    This week I made a beet and apple salad:

  3. For Fall Fest:
    This simple Arugula and Mustard Salad captures the taste of fall.

  4. Must try, love salads with apples. My contribution is one of all time favorite salads that I first enjoyed in Paris.

  5. i am so late to the party, but i posted a recipe for roasted beet, fig and orange salad. the figs and oranges are roasted too... http://napafarmhouse1885.blogspot.com/2010/10/have-you-ever-roasted-oranges-and.html

  6. Please try out my harvest orzo salad for a hearty fall entertaining dish: http://kitchenjourneys.com/2010/10/12/harvest-orzo-salad/