Fennel and Grapefruit Salad with Wheat Berries

by Joseph Erdos
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grapfruitfennelsaladIf it wasn't for citrus fruit, winter's selection of produce would be pretty sad and boring. Once you've had your share of squashes and root vegetables, it's time for something different. Citrus offers a welcome respite. When markets begin to overflow with oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, things finally get exciting. You may even see unusual citruses, such as blood oranges, tangelos, and pomelos. I love them all, but I particularly adore the sweet-tart flavor of grapefruits. This time of year, they replace my apple-a-day routine. But grapefruits aren't just for a dessert or snack, they shine in savory dishes, like this salad.

The classic fennel and grapefruit salad is a wonderful combination. Crunchy and sweet anise-flavored fennel goes well with the tart citrus flavor of grapefruit. This recipe reinvents the salad by adding wheat berries for a wholesome twist. The actual grains of wheat—the berries, as they are called—come in hard and soft varieties, where the hard is higher in protein and the soft higher in starch. Both work fine in this recipe. Once cooked, the berries are chewy on the outside, but tender on the inside. Enjoy them as a side dish like a pilaf or add them to any salad. They are especially nice in this recipe as they absorb the vinaigrette and grapefruit juices.

To round out this cool and refreshing salad, fresh herbs are a welcome addition. Cilantro and mint lend peppery aroma and even more citrus-like brightness. Be sure to reserve the fennel fronds, which act just like herbs. Pomegranate seeds add ruby color and sweet bursts to every bite. The dressing is simply grapefruit juice, a touch of vinegar, Dijon mustard, and olive oil. This salad could easily function as an entree or side dish to a lean protein like chicken breast or pork loin. Enjoy this colorful and healthy salad for lunch or dinner any day of the week.

Fennel and Grapefruit Salad with Wheat Berries, Herbs, and Pomegranate Seeds

Note: To cook the wheat berries, combine 1/2 cup hard or soft wheat berries with 2 cups lightly salted water. bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until tender, about 1 hour. Drain before using.

Tip: After supreming the grapefruit, squeeze the juice from the remaining core and use it to make the vinaigrette.

2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced with fronds reserved
1 cup cooked wheat berries
1 large red grapefruit, supremed
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

In a large bowl, whisk together grapefruit juice, vinegar, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add sliced fennel, wheat berries, chopped herbs, and half the pomegranate seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Transfer salad to serving bowl or divide among plates. Nestle grapefruit segments into salad. Top with remaining pomegranate seeds and reserved fennel fronds. Yield: 4 appetizer or side dish servings.

Joseph Erdos is a New York–based writer and editor, but above all a gastronomer and oenophile. He shares his passion for food on his blog, Gastronomer's Guide , which features unique recipes and restaurant reviews among many other musings on the all-encompassing topic of food.

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