Wheat Berry Salad with Beets and Feta

Wheat Berry Salad with Beets and Feta ~ this earthy whole grain salad is homey, but festive enough for the holidays, and even if you’re dealing with a mashup of  carnivores, flexitarians, weight watchers, picky eaters, and vegetarians around your table, everybody’s going to lunge at this salad!

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Grain salads are my official mini obsession for the fall/winter season ~ I can’t get enough of the chewy texture of the whole grains, or ‘berries’, and there are so many whole grain varieties to try, it’s hard not to get a little carried away.  My RYE AND CARROT SALAD set it all off this year.  I made that one with rye berries and lots of bright orange steamed carrots.  It was so delicious I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  This wheat berry salad was a logical next step.

I love my leafy greens, but these grain salads are much more suited to cooler weather.  They’re so satisfying you can make a meal out of them with the addition of some good (whole grain) bread.

Grain ‘berries’ are simply the whole kernel of the plant ~ brown rice is an example, or barley.  Even popcorn!  It’s the raw unprocessed seed of the grain plant, whether it be oats, wheat, rice, rye, quinoa, or any other.  They can be

 

Whole grains have been out of the spotlight lately because of the popularity of Paleo and gluten free diets.  I think it’s a shame, because they’re incredibly healthy, full of B vitamins and iron, and have tons of protein and fiber. Unless you have a rare condition like Celiacs disease where you can’t tolerate gluten, I think whole grains should be a part of any healthy meal planning.

Tomatoes aren’t the only heirlooms around ~ some ancient varieties of wheat like farro, spelt, freekah, kamut, etc., go all the way back to the Egyptians!

 

You’ll find wheat berries in large grocery stores or Whole Foods type stores in the grain section with the rice and quinoa, etc.  I happen to like Bob’s Red Mill brand, but you will find others as well.  I prefer to buy my whole grains in packages rather than from bulk bins because I can’t be sure how long they’ve been hanging around in those bins.  Whole grains can spoil quickly ~ it helps to store them in the fridge or even freezer.

 

 

You can change out the cast of ingredients in this wheat berry salad according to what’s in season and what looks good at the supermarket.  For right now all the root veggies look good, carrots, beets, turnips, etc.  I like to steam or roast them just until they lose their raw crunch, but still remain firm and brightly colored.  I love the look of both red and golden beets in my salad, and I think rainbow carrots would be stunning.

Just because the farmers markets have closed down doesn’t mean you can’t find stunning produce, just look at these beets!

I rely on minced celery and red onion not only for their crunch, but for their flavor.  Lots of fresh herbs freshens up the mix and gives this dish a ‘salad’ vibe.

TIPS: This wheat berry salad is best made at least a few hours and up to a day ahead, which allows the dressing to soak into the grains and gives the flavors a chance to develop, so it fits into a busy holiday or work week schedule. 

TIP: If you’re using red beets and don’t want them to bleed their color all over the salad, toss them in some of the dressing first, then assemble the salad without them, and tuck them in just before serving.

Wheat Berry Salad with Beets and Feta

Yield: serves 6-8

Wheat Berry Salad with Beets and Feta

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch golden beets, small or medium sized
  • 1 bunch red beets, small or medium sized
  • 1 cup wheat or rye berries
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1/3 cup minced red onion (about 1/4 of a medium onion)
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, chopped (1/3 cup)
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped (1/3 cup)
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
    garnish
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
    dressing
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 tbsp of your favorite vinegar, I used O Olive Oil Honey White Balsamic
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Trim the tops off the beets and put them in a single layer in a casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake until the beets are just tender, but not soft. Check with the tip of a sharp knife. I like them to be tender but still firm. The exact time will vary greatly depending on the size of your beets. Check small beets after 30 minutes, large beets after an hour. Let cool and then remove the skins. Chop the beets into bite sized chunks or wedges.
  3. Meanwhile cook the wheat berries according to the package directions, but check them for tenderness 10-15 minuted before the time allotted. I cook mine in 4 cups of water for about 40 minutes. You want them to be firm and chewy. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well and put into a large salad bowl.
  4. Whisk the oil and vinegar together with a pinch of salt. Start with 4 tablespoons of vinegar and taste it, you may want to add more.
  5. Toss the red beets with a little bit of the dressing to retard the color bleed.
  6. Add the rest of the beets, onions, celery, and herbs to the bowl and toss with the dressing. You can either add the red beets in now, or reserve them to tuck in just before serving, your choice. They will bleed their color into the salad the longer they sit.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least several hours.
  8. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese just before serving.
https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/wheat-berry-salad-beets-feta/

Make it your own~

  • MAKE IT VEGAN: leave out the feta and add chopped toasted nuts like walnuts or hazelnuts.
  • MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: use any type of rice such as brown rice instead of the wheat berries.  Be sure not to overcook the rice, you want it to be firm and chewy, not soft.  Also consider wild rice, or Forbidden rice (black rice,) either would be a fantastic base for this salad.  Quinoa is another gluten free grain, but it won’t give you that chewy texture.
  • Goat cheese or even blue cheese crumbles would also work in place of the feta.

 

Don’t forget to pin this Wheat Berry Salad with Beets and Feta

Wheat Berry Salad with Beets and Feta ~ this earthy whole grain salad is stunning enough for your holiday table, and don't be surprised if the carnivores in your group jump ship and join the vegetarians! #salad #wholegrains #wheatberries #grainsalad #sidedish #Thanksgiving #vegetarian #vegan #Whole30 #Thanksgivingsidedish #Thanksgivingsalad #beets #healthy #wintersalad #highfiber #protein #farro #spelt #emmer #frekkah

 

 

15 Comments

  • Reply
    Marilyn
    November 18, 2017 at 8:38 am

    This looks so delicious, I can’t wait to try it! Thank you so much!

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 18, 2017 at 10:02 am

      Enjoy it Marilyn, and let us know what you think!

  • Reply
    2pots2cook
    November 18, 2017 at 5:23 am

    So in love with ancient grains ! So energizing and comforting ! Thank you !

  • Reply
    Liz
    November 17, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I love absolutely everything about this salad! I haven’t made wheat berries in a long time, but now I’ll be dreaming about this salad until I do!

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    November 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Such a beautiful autumn salad, love all the rich colors and textures!

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    November 17, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    What a spectacular salad! I love all the colors, textures, shapes, flavors and wonderful nutrition. This one has it all and I know I could enjoy it day after day!

  • Reply
    Jann
    November 17, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Would this work with couscous?

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 17, 2017 at 10:37 am

      It totally would work with couscous, Jann, and it would be great.

  • Reply
    Christina
    November 17, 2017 at 8:53 am

    DANG girl! First of all, your photography is stunning. Simply stunning. Second, this recipe sounds wonderful. I love the sugar, dairy, and meat-filled recipes this time of year but every now and then I gotta break it up and eat something healthy. This recipe is just what the doctored ordered!

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 17, 2017 at 9:30 am

      Thanks so much Christina, I am so in love with this salad, and the photos came out of the camera just like that, the salad deserves ALL the credit :) Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend.

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    November 17, 2017 at 6:54 am

    I have to grab a package of the wheat berries – I’ve been craving salads loaded with this kind of chewy goodness. Love beats and this beautiful salad. Have a lovely weekend!

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 17, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Now that I’ve done rye and wheat berries, I have to track down some more grains to work with. I’m definitely making this into a series! Have a great weekend too, Tricia <3

  • Reply
    Angie@Angie's Recipes
    November 17, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Such a pretty whole grain salad! But what I love the most is those gorgeous beets!

    • Reply
      Sue
      November 17, 2017 at 9:34 am

      Beets are everything, aren’t they?

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    November 17, 2017 at 6:12 am

    Stunning! I’m all about the grains this Fall, too. Loving these wheat berries :)

  • Leave a Reply

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