The inspiration for this salad comes from kisir, my favorite Turkish salad, made of bulgur, fresh vegetables and lots of fresh herbs. In my salad, I roasted the vegetables and tossed them with cooked wheat berries and lots of fresh herbs. A splash of olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate paste and you will not want anything else for the day.
Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Vegetables
You can increase or decrease the amount of pretty much any ingredient in this salad, to your taste. I love my salad with lots of fresh herbs. And I use fewer zucchini squash as it tends to soften too much in the oven. So, play with the amounts to suit your palate. Using pomegranate paste (in Azeri –narsharab – a molasses-like syrup made of tart pomegranate) is optional, but I love the extra tartness it adds to the salad. Pomegranate paste is available in most Middle Eastern/Persian stores.
Serves 6 to 8
2 cup wheat berries
4 medium eggplants
1 medium zucchini squash
1 medium red bell pepper, cored and seeded
1 medium yellow or orange bell pepper, cored and seeded
1/4 cup or to taste, olive oil
freshly squeezed juice of 1 medium lemon
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup, optional
1/4 cup or to taste, chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup or to taste, chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup or to taste, chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup or to taste chopped green onions, white and green parts
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Put the wheat berries in a medium saucepan and fill the pan with enough water to cover the wheat berries by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil and cook until the wheat berries are tender but still slightly chewy. Check often to make sure the saucepan has enough water; add more as needed. The cooking may take 1 or 2 hours, and sometimes longer, depending on the variety of the wheat berries. To cut the cooking time, you can also presoak the wheat berries overnight in a bowl with cold water, and cook them the next day. Put the cooked wheat berries on a fine mesh sieve and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F.
Cut the vegetables into medium-size dice. Place on a baking sheet. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Spread on the baking sheet. Roast the vegetables on the middle rack of the oven until they are nicely browned, stirring once or twice, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Put the cooked wheat berries in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and if using, pomegranate paste. Toss. Add the roasted vegetables and fresh herbs. Toss to mix. Adjust the amount of dressing to your taste.
Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. Nush Olsun!