Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Fennel and Red Bell Pepper

Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Fennel and Red Bell Pepper (c)2013 La Domestique

Hello there! We’re halfway through January, can you believe it? To be honest, the past couple of weeks have been a blur for me. Has it been that way for you too? After taking a little time to relax and enjoy the holidays, I’ve been completely overwhelmed getting back in the swing of things. It’s a good overwhelmed, though. I’ve been blessed with a lot of freelance photography and writing work, but as these things go I’m sure things will slow down come February. The freelance life is feast or famine. It’s been bitterly cold here in Colorado (daytime temperatures have hit a high of 5°F!), and I’ve been working from home trying to keep from getting the flu. How are you coping with the winter blues? I’ve seen a lot of bloggers organizing their pantries and whipping up brightly colored juices to boost the immune system. This time of year I kind of enjoy the challenge of cooking from the pantry (while the garden hibernates). One can only eat so much citrus, and so I try to find creative ways to infuse my meals with healthy produce. Today I’ve got a pantry meal for you that’s based on hearty, filling grains and relies on roasted red bell peppers from the jar for color and nutrition. Bon appétit!

Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Fennel and Red Bell Pepper (c)2013 La Domestique

Whole grains serve as a filling and nutritious base for winter salads. Wheat berries are whole-wheat kernels, and though they require a bit more effort than quick-cooking grains, the reward is in their nutty flavor and satisfying texture. Wheat berries should be soaked in water overnight and then simmered for about 45 minutes, but preparing them ahead of time on the weekend makes it quick and easy to add the grains to salads and soups throughout the week.

This winter wheat berry salad is made using pantry items like roasted red bell peppers from a jar combined with canned white beans, tangy capers, and creamy feta cheese. Fennel adds freshness to the salad, along with plenty of parsley. Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Fennel and Red Bell Pepper makes for a healthy and sustaining packed lunch or supper. If wheat berries are unavailable cooked barley or quinoa would be delicious in this recipe.

Ingredients for Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Fennel and Red Bell Pepper (c)2013 La Domestique

Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Fennel and Red Bell Pepper

serves 6-8 as a side salad, 4 hungry people as lunch

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked wheat berries
  • 1 large bulb of fennel
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, or other white bean
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Soak the wheat berries overnight by placing the grains in a bowl and covering them with water. To cook the wheat berries, drain from the soaking water and place the grains in a medium pot with 1 ½ cups water. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and simmer until the grains are al dente, or tender but pleasantly chewy, about 40-50 minutes.

Roast the fennel. Heat the oven to 425°F. Cut off the top stalks and the hard base. Slice the bulb in half vertically and cut out the woody core. Chop the fennel roughly into bite-sized pieces, then toss with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven till tender and caramelized, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked wheat berries, fennel, red bell pepper, cannellini beans, and parsley. Make the vinaigrette. Place the capers and sherry vinegar in a bowl and gradually whisk in ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad. Season the salad with sea salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over the feta cheese just before serving. Enjoy the salad warm or at room temperature.

Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Fennel and Red Bell Pepper (c)2013 La Domestique

18 Comments

  1. I was mulling the idea of a farro salad today, but this looks really delicious. Lots of Mediterranean vegetables remind me of warm and sunny days.

    Reply
    • Karen,
      I hadn’t thought of this salad as Mediterranean, but it SO is!

      Reply
    • Val,
      Both of those salads look delicious. Thanks for sharing them! Farro is a great substitution for wheat berries as well. Cheers!

      Reply
  2. This salad sounds amazing! I haven’t had wheat berries in far too long. Love the intense feta and pepper flavors. :)

    Reply
    • Eileen,
      I’m glad you like the salad and agree, wheat berries are so good!

      Reply
  3. Jess, your photos are stunning, and your recipes truly enticing… so clean and vibrant and lovely!

    Reply
    • Thank you Zoe, I really appreciate your kind comment. Made my day, actually. :)

      Reply
  4. Zoe took the words right out of my mouth: clean, vibrant, lovely. Well put!

    Reply
    • Thank you sis!

      Reply
  5. Ah, Adrienne from Mince & Type made something similar to this recently, so now I know that I need some hearty grain salad in my life. This is exactly the kind of thing I crave this time of year. Fortifying and pantry based goodness.

    And I get you on the freelancing thing. Pre-holidays I was drowning in that stuff and it’s kind of gone on the last couple weeks, but I know February will be quiet, which is fine. More time for hot cocoa at home. Hope you’re staying warm and well out there, Jessica :)

    Reply
    • Laura,
      The down time is always good for catching up with friends and gathering inspiration for your creative spirit. Enjoy that hot cocoa!

      Reply
  6. I love recipes from the pantry! I made a wheat berry salad last winter, loved it, and didn’t make it again. I’ll have to change that and try this lovely version.

    Reply
    • Nicole,
      I agree, I always feel so good to pull a few ingredients out of the pantry and whip up something good to eat (maybe with the addition of some fresh produce). I’m glad you found some inspiration!

      Reply
  7. You must have been reading my mind Jess, I have a bag of wheat berries that have been burning a hole in my cupboard but I couldn’t decide what to do with them. Salad it is!

    Reply
    • Tina,
      Fantastic! Take care!

      Reply
  8. It’s been ages since I’ve cooked with wheat berries and you’ve reminded me of just how awesome they can be. Pantry eating at its finest!

    Reply
    • Thanks Renee!

      Reply

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