Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad...

The holidays is just around the corner and sure enough calendars are filling up with get-togethers. Likely you'll be invited to a house party where you're asked to bring your favourite potluck dish. As images of the usual calorie-laden festive and dessert fare run across your mind, you're asking what would be welcoming to tote that is on the healthier side but has promise as a crowd-pleaser. I say, how about a new twist on the American classic Waldorf Salad, made with a light vinaigrette and on a bed of nutritious but delicious whole grain wheat berries.

Wheat berries are common wheat- a versatile whole grain full of B vitamins, protein and fibre which packs a sweet nutty flavour and are pleasantly chewy. You can buy them in the bulk section of natural foods stores and in packages in Asian supermarkets. Be sure to get the whole variety often called hard red winter wheat or premium wheat. Their pearled version has been milled to remove the outer bran and you lose out on the nutritious fibre. Waldorf Salad consists of tart apples, celery, grapes/raisins and walnuts dressed in creamy mayonnaise.  For a new spin on this classic with a nod to the festive holiday, there's sweet red jewels of cranberries to replace raisins and instead of creamy, a healthy oil and vinegar dressing to tie it altogether. The result is a culmination of colours, flavours and textures that is sure to whet anyone's appetite and make your potluck contribution a note-worthy one!

Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad 
Makes 6-8 servings (double or triple the recipe to serve a crowd)

1 cup (200 g) uncooked wheat berries yields 2-1/4 cups cooked

2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped 
1 stalk celery, small diced 
1/2 cup dried cranberries 
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts 
1 green onion, thinly sliced

Vinaigrette Dressing: 
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
1 Tbsp. lemon juice 
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey 
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 

Put wheat berries into a large bowl, cover with at least two inches of water and let them soak for eight hours or overnight. Drain well.

Optional TIP: Toast the wheat berries before cooking to encourage their nuttiness. Heat the oven at 375°F, spread them out on a sheet pan and toast for about 10 minutes, just until slightly browned.  

Transfer the wheat berries into a sauce pan and add six cups of water and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer about one hour or until tender. Check for doneness by tasting a few berries- they should be chewy and not tough. Drain; cool. 

Raw whole wheat berries.

Cooked whole wheat berries.

Mix apples, celery, walnuts and cranberries in a large bowl. In another large bowl, mix cooked wheat berries with green onions. Blend dressing ingredients in the order listed in a small bowl; divide the dressing between the mixtures in the two large bowls and toss well.

Incorporate half of the apple mixture with the wheat berries. Layer on the bottom of a serving plate. Top with remaining apple mixture. Refrigerate for one hour to let the flavours meld before serving.

The intermingling of colours, textures and flavours makes this dish ultra-scrumptious!

This recipe was inspired by Aloha, a New York-based healthy living web-site. Aloha incorporates superfoods in many of their recipes to really increase a sustainable lifestyle. For many more healthy recipes, please visit Lots of recipes to make feeding your soul simple.

Their Sweet Potato Apple Bake Smoothie recipe sounds over-the-top nutritious and delicious, packed with vitamins and awesome as a hearty dessert beverage. And the Acai Banana Super Antioxidant Bowl topped with nuts, dried and fresh fruit, coconut flakes could do double duty as a sustainable breakfast or an easy to do dessert. Take a look for savoury, soup, vegetable sides, snacks and baked good recipes... certainly something will jump out at you to inspire your recipe repertoire with health foremost in mind.

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