I was alone this weekend.
No wife, no kids, no pets (except for Monty, Boris’ Ball Python).
So this post will be a little different from the rest. On Saturday I was not cooking to teach, or to satisfy a crowd, I was cooking for me. So….what was on the menu you ask? Let’s see….I had some fresh herbs and arugula from the garden, and some impossibly sweet corn, fresh garlic, and cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market. I had some wheat berries in the pantry that I was itchin’ to put to use, and a lovely, locally raised skirt steak for the grill. All the makings of my favorite kind of meal. Fresh, healthy and locally produced.
The steak got about 4 hours in a South American style marinade before it spent a scant 4 minutes ( 2 min. each side) on the searing hot grill. It was served with a chimichurri sauce made from my garden herbs and freshly chopped garlic. The corn stayed on the cob, simply steamed and served with plenty of butter, salt and pepper. The wheat berry salad I threw together turned out really well, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you all.
It was simple to make, and infinitely changeable to suit your tastes, or what you have on hand. That night, it had a bit of a Provencal feel to it with fresh basil, arugula, roasted tomatoes and yellow bell pepper, kalamata olives, and a shallot thyme vinaigrette. It was tasty!
- 1 cup wheat berries
- A handful of pitted kalamata olives
- About 2 dozen cherry tomatoes
- 10 large basil leaves roughly chopped
- 2 cups loosely packed arugula
- 1 roasted yellow pepper
- Shallot-Thyme vinaigrette to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 F degrees.
- Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, toss in the wheat berries, give a quick stir, then turn off the heat and cover. Let the wheat berries soak like this for about an hour. Turn the burner back on, bring to a boil, then drop the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the wheat berries cook for 30-40 minutes. Start checking for doneness when a few of the grains have started to burst, and cook to the degree of doneness you prefer. I like mine al dente, with a little bite to them. When they are done, drain them thoroughly and place them in a large bowl to cool. Drizzle a little olive oil on them and stir to coat to keep them from getting sticky. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Reserve.
- Quarter the pitted olives and place them in a bowl with the tomatoes. Coat generously with olive oil, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Lay these on a rimmed baking sheet and place them in the oven to roast for 25 minutes or so, until the tomato skins are nicely blistered. Remove from the oven, and add (along with any accumulated juices) to the bowl of wheat berries. Slice the roasted pepper and add to the bowl as well.
- For the vinaigrette, place 1 teaspoon dijon mustard in a bowl with a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of sherry wine vinegar (or some other kind if you prefer) until all the salt has dissolved. Slowly drizzle 6 tablespoons of EVOO into the bowl, whisking all the while to achieve a thick emulsion. Add 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot, and 1-2 teaspoons of minced fresh thyme. Check for seasoning and reserve.
- Just before serving the salad, toss the arugula and chopped basil into the bowl with the wheat berries, add about half the vinaigrette and some salt and pepper, mix and taste. Add more vinaigrette and S&P to your liking.