Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wheat Berry Salad with Garden Vegetables

Yesterday was a strange day to say the least. My intention was do some recipe testing but after a series of unfortunate events I was left in a funk. Combine that with the almost constant stream of rain this May and really all I wanted to so was sulk and play with the computer. In fact this morning a friend sent me a text and I stared at it for a full minute looking for the like button....I wish I was kidding. Maybe that was a clue I needed to unplug for a bit today. Just maybe. I did however find a lot of good inspiration for brownie flavors so it all worked out in the end.

The crazy thing about baking constantly is that you suddenly start to CRAVE healthy food. You would think that the constant smell of butter and sugar with really great chocolate would be enticing but I am absolute proof you can get tired of it. Who could have dreamed? One of the interesting things about me is I like baking and cooking equally. People generally lean towards one direction or other. Rule makes versus rule breakers. I like both. Sometimes I want the comfort of following the directions. The precision. The science of baking speaks to the biologist in my heart. Cooking is the creative force that lets out my wild child. The part of me that can't be tamed. This just got a little too deep for a Wednesday afternoon.

One of the great joys of food is discovery. When I started making healthy eating a priority I started learning about grains and and vegetables I had either never tried or was convinced I didn't like. Wheat berries are the whole kernel of wheat and when cooked properly have a pleasantly chewy texture and nutty flavor. They also have a good amount of protein and fiber and especially for vegetarians or vegans they can make a hardy and filling main course or a substantial side dish.

This leads me to the point of my part time vegetarianism. I am not looking for a debate on the benefits of a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. We each make our own choices and need to respect not everyone else agrees. For me this has come from a  few places. My love of animals, my desire to alleviate the burden on the planet and from wanting to eat a healthier diet. It is easy to rely solely on meat for interest in a meal and the more I learn about the meat raising practices of this country as well as the burden raising feed animals on the planet I decided to start eating vegetarian at least several days a week. This is going to have an influence on this blog which I don't think is a bad thing. Regardless of your personal preferences you can always add meat or use the recipe as a side or skip meat and use it as your entree. Problem solved. All that I ask is that people think about where there food comes from. All of it and try to buy the least processed, best quality products they can afford.

This recipe is dedicated to my friend Becky who is battling Crohn's disease and finds marginal relief in a vegan diet. I hope you like it.

Wheat Berries with Garden Vegetables
2 Entree Portions or 4 Side Portions

1 Cup Red Winter Wheat Berries
3 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock, Low-sodium
Garden Vegetables- This is where this recipe can be made your own. I love recipes that are clean out your pantry kind of dishes. I used..
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1- (14 0z) Jar Artichoke Hearts, drained and cut into 4ths
2 Cups Sliced Fresh Mushrooms, use a mix of whatever you like. I was being cheap so I just bought one kind. When did mushrooms start being $18.99 a pound?
1 Large Carrot, peeled and diced
3 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and minced
1 Cup Diced White Onion
Salt and Pepper

The morning before you want to cook the wheat berries soak them in a bowl with water just to cover. They will be ready when you get home that night.

Place wheat berries and stock in a small sauce pan and simmer over low heat until stock is absorbed. 60-90 minutes.

Saute in olive oil the onions and carrots until the onions are translucent. Add artichoke hearts and mushrooms and let caramelize over medium-low heat until all the veggies are cooked and are slightly brown. Add the wheat berries and mix thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with crusty bread or entree of your choice.

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