Don’t get me wrong; eating to oblivion is a pleasure like no other, but when even your fat jeans are screaming murder and your zippers are one panini away from becoming an explosive device, it might be a good time to revisit your vegetable drawer– and not just to dump out faded, forgotten friends.
On a whim I invited a friend over for lunch I hadn’t seen in ages, and between various errands, I was running out of time. I didn’t have time to run to the store for extra ingredients, so I was forced to improvise with what I had on hand. Rummaging through my produce drawer, I came across a beautiful pomegranate, some fresh spinach and broccoli. Now what?
I then found some hard wheat berries I bought last week at Whole Foods, and I thought they’d make a fine addition. I love these little guys; they combine the nuttiness of brown rice but sport a more satisfyingly crunch. They give a salad a substantial gravitas, and even a small serving is hugely satisfying. And if little Miss Piggy here says it’ll leave you sated, you can take that to the bank.
Pomegranates made me think of Middle Eastern cuisine so I whipped up a tahini vinaigrette in my blender – fresh lemon juice, garlic, tahini, cumin, ginger, smoked paprika, sesame oil, salt and pepper and just enough water to give it the right consistency. I tasted it and thought it needed a kick so I added some Sriracha, gave it another whirl. It was intensely lemony, a bit spicy, and arrived with a thick sesame accent – just strong enough to cut through the blandness of the cooked grain and focus on the nutty undertones.
I tossed the still warm wheat berries with the veggies, a bit of feta and copious amounts of pomegranate. I adjusted the flavor with a tinch more salt and it was delicious, if I do say so myself: nutty, crunchy, cruxiferous, lemony and then the pop-pop-pop of tart seeds to keep the party going. I could have danced all night.
Best part, leftovers held up beautifully in the fridge and fed me (plus teachers, friends and hubby) for a few days. Only one question remains.
Hey Zipper, can I have a few Fritos now?
- 2 C. Wheat berries (I like hard)
- 3 C. Water
- ½ tsp. salt
- 6 C. Assorted Vegetables, sliced in bite-sized pieces
- 1 Tbs. Freshly grated ginger
- 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
- ½ C. Fresh Lemon juice
- ½ C. Tahini
- ½ C. Water
- 1 Tbs. Sesame oil
- 1 Tbs. your favorite hot sauce
- ½ tsp. each : cumin, smoked paprika, salt
- 1 C. Pomegranate Seeds (or that of one large fruit)
- ½ - 1 C. Feta, crumbled
- Place wheat berries, salt and water in pot. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook until just cooked through and water is absorbed, about 30-35 minutes.
- While that is cooking, make the Tahini Dressing. Put all dressing ingredients in blender and puree until well blended.
- If using vegetables that need blanching, do that do now, taking care to barely just cook through.
- Place in bowl with all other vegetables. Salt lightly. Add cooked wheat berries and dressing and toss.
- Garnish with pomegranate seeds and feta.
- Adjust flavor with extra salt, lemon juice, little extra olive oil or hot sauce if desired.