23 June 2015

Wheat berry bowls



There are plenty of things to get used to when sharing a kitchen and food with another, presumably romantic, partner. My recent favorite includes the snacking of "deconstructed" granola: a handful of granola poured from the jar to the palm followed by a long sip of almond milk straight from the carton, while standing in front of the open refrigerator. I consider myself lucky in this department... and I've got my own faults: mostly ingredient control, I suspect. When it comes to sharing food and space, I gather, based on recent conversations, a common anxiety (the topic coming from a friend embarking on romantic kitchen-sharing last week) is, can you cook once--and manage the potential of a "where's the meat" question infiltrating every meal shared? The person I spoke with is vegetarian, but we all know that most ladies are more willing to subsist some nights on a fancy salad with good cheese, a nice glass of wine and a chocolate something for dessert and call it balanced, than their male counterparts.


I said some nights. Actually, most days I've come to find it the most inspiring and worth it (a little leftovers please) to make meals revolving around a good protein source, but there are days when it just doesn't make as much sense. Vegetables are coming on strong now, maybe you had your fill of BBQ chicken and burgers over the weekend and you feel like you could give the earth a donation today. Which brings me to these wheat berry abundance bowls. Mostly everything can be prepared in advance and assembled when you're ready to share a meal. Add a little mixed greens, sliced avocado, and a poached egg (or sliced omelet for the runny yolk averse) and I will most definitely promise you that meat won't be missed. #Meatlessmonday




I like to work with bulky vegetables here that can withstand a good roast and compliment hearty grains like wheat berries. I saw a huge cauliflower at the market for the first time this year and we've already discussed the shiitakes. Bell peppers, onions work well too. And if you've got some shelled beans on hand (cranberries, favas, --or I used frozen edamame) that adds protein and texture. With the wheat berries--you MUST soak them. They cook up so much better after having been soaked overnight. They still take 90 minutes to simmer in my book, but just think of how much you can do in that hands-off time. Leftover grain can keep in a container a few days. And lastly, don't forget the cheese. A little of the strong stuff like feta goes a long way. Build your bowls.




Wheat berry bowls


1/2 cup wheat berries, dry
Olive oil
Lemon, juiced
Salt + pepper
2-4 cups mixed vegetables, chopped into 1/2-1 inch pieces: shiitakes, cauliflower, bell pepper, e.g.
2-4 ounces feta cheese
1/2-1 c cooked edamame, cooled and shelled
Handful mixed herbs such as dill, parsley, oregano


Wheat berries:
The night before, place 1/2 cup wheat berries into a jar or bowl, cover with twice as much water, loosely place plastic over and let sit overnight. The next day, rinse lightly, drain. Melt 1/2 tsp butter in a sauce pan and pour in drained wheat berries, stirring constantly for a minute. Add a pinch salt and 1 1/2 cups filtered water. Place a few herb sprigs, and/or a few onion slices into the water as well.

Bring to a boil, stir, then lower to a simmer and cover. Cook about 90 minutes (my preference) or a little less, depending on your al dente preference. You can start checking at 60. The berries should have absorbed most of the water, and be tender but not too chewy and not mushy. Remove from the heat, let stand to cool a bit, then transfer to a bowl. Season with salt, pepper, lemon and olive oil.

Vegetables:
Toss with oil, salt, pepper, and other spices, roast at 425 for 20-30 minutes until tender. Set aside to cool. Toss edamame with the same seasonings as the wheat berries.

To serve:
Layer seasoned wheat berries, edamame, vegetables, and feta on platter. Serve with add-ons on the side. Scatter with herbs, more olive oil and lemon and flakey salt.

Add-ons:
A poached egg per person, or omelet cut into strips
Sliced avocado
A handful of dressed greens



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