Wheatberry Whatever Salad

wheatberry.jpgMy mother, brother and a couple of friends were coming to dinner Sunday night. I had the main course – some organic St. Louis-cut pork ribs (according to the Whole Food’s butcher these are meatier though less tender than baby-back ribs – and they MUCH cheaper). I had plenty of peppery arugula for a vinegary foil for the sweet and smoky barbecued ribs. What I needed was a side dish salad – something that I could make before my guests arrived. Something starchy, but showcasing summer vegetables. Of course, I really did not want to go to the market. I’ve got a vegetable garden – isn’t that supposed to supply me with veggies?

Well yes, and no. See my day’s harvest? This would be perfect for three or possibly four, but I had seven people coming to dinner. Hence, the Wheatberry Whatever Salad. The salad pictured is farro combined with the beans, squash, tomatoes, basil and garlic chives with olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper too. It was great. It would also be an excellent way to use odds and ends of produce in your refrigerator.

wheatberry3.jpgFarro is an Italian grain. The kind I used was semi-pearled, meaning that part of the hard outer surface is removed. You can substitute spelt or wheat berries, but they will take longer to become tender and have a chewier texture. You can find farro at fancy food stores and online. You can find spelt at health foods stores, and wheat berries for lots less $ at a Middle Eastern market.

I love the nutty, chewy-textured grain. There is a farro salad in Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes, and I’ve got a farro salad in the August Issue of Bon Appetit (I’ll link to that as soon as it’s up on line). But if you’ve got some random produce in your garden or refrigerator, be creative and try Whatever!

Wheatberry Whatever Salad for 8:

Boil 1 1/2 cups farro, spelt or wheat berries in salted water until tender, about 25, 40 or 50 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Mix in 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and 1 garlic clove, crushed. Let stand until cool. MIx in garden veggies such as halved cherry tomatoes, blanched green beans, grilled or sauteed summer squash, chopped red or green onions, chopped fresh herbs, chopped bell peppers – Whatever! Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice or balsamic vinegar to taste.  Left overs make a really quick lunch.


Jeanne Kelley is an established food writer, recipe developer and food stylist based in Los Angeles, California. Integrating locally grown produce with globally influenced flavors, Kelley’s approach to cooking is both simple, festive and fresh. Her recipes can be found in her latest book is Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: Recipes from a Modern Kitchen Garden and on her blog Eat Fresh