Thursday, April 7, 2011

Moroccan Wheat Berry Salad

In case you found a way to dodge my steady stream of social media abuse this past weekend, you know that I recently journeyed back to my homeland of Red Sox Nation to cross a few things off my checklist. While in Boston, I was lucky enough to:
  1. Celebrate my dear mother's 30th birthday 
  2. Visit my long-lost-best-friend and supermodel, Catherine Way
  3. Land an internship (er, kind of)
  4. Guzzle down enough carbs to fuel an oil tanker
  5. Take part in a life changing seminar by the Four-Time James Beard Award Winning food writerDavid Leite 
I swear none of that was exaggerated...

Okay, fine, some of it was. Hush. But after my weekend of merriment, I can't stop doing this:

In fact, last weekend's activities soared so far beyond my expectations, I could have flown home on my own Cloud Nine. I had, so naively, assumed that I would walk out of the Boston University seminar with just a few helpful hints on how to get people to read about what I slap up here. 

I had no idea that someone as marvelously reputable as David would be catering our discussion to questions that I asked... like, little old me! 

I relished in every possible second of his golden wit. And yeah, I kind of want to be him. 

David versed us on everything from creating recipes, to submitting proposals, to the art of food blogging. And he was hilarious, to boot. Please check out his website so you can understand what I'm talking about! 

I found that there was but one downside to his lecture, and I hesitate to even say it... 

Apparently, my Ralph Lauren Superman (aka the illustrious Ina Garten) has a serious 'tude when it comes to writing about her recipes. I know, I know. It's practically sacrilege to tarnish my guru's Teflon reputation. But don't let her impeccably ironed button-down and loyalty to fabulosity fool you; this Hampton queen is apparently quite the hardass. 

Let's move on, I'm currently trying to repress this in my memory. 

I'm pretty jazzed about this next recipe. I've been holding on to the idea for a while now, and after making it, I have no idea why. I thought that I'd need a substantial chunk of time to cook the wheat berries, but they took less than 20 minutes. And in the meantime, you can prepare everything you need for the finished product.

The flavors are definitely different. I used three ingredients for the first time, here, and I'm happy to say it turned out great. See what can happen with a little experimentation? Beautiful things, people. 

I can now confidently say that wheat berries, dried currants, and Meyer lemon hold a place among my novelty food vanquishes. I get that the ingredients in this salad may not be terribly approachable to a palette tuned to Sunset Strips, but just give 'em a chance...

Because Brian Williams said so.

Moroccan Wheat Berry Salad
Serves 4
[1] cup dry wheat berries 
     (makes 2+ cups cooked)
[1/3] cup chopped fresh mint
[1] cup dried currants
[1/2] cup shredded carrot
[1/4] cup Meyer Lemon Curry vinaigrette (recipe as follows)

For the vinaigrette:
[2] Meyer lemons, juiced*
[1] tsp olive oil
[1] tsp curry powder
[1] tbsp course ground Dijon mustard
[1] tbsp rice wine vinegar
[1] tsp agave nectar

Start by lightly toasting wheat berries in a dry medium saucepan. Remember to keep an eye on them, shaking the pan occasionally... I let my A.D.D. get the best of me and some of these suckers burned. After about 2-3 minutes, pour in the water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes covered. Package directions may vary so check the instructions on the back.

Place chopped mint, dried currants and shredded carrots in a large bowl. 

Once the wheat berries are cooked (they should be chewy), drain and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking. If you add the hot wheat berries to the fresh mint, the mint will turn brown. And it will be ugly. After the wheat berries have cooled, dump them in the bowl with the rest of the crew. 

To make the vinaigrette, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, curry powder, dijon, vinegar, and agave together in a small bowl, then pour over the mixture and combine. The resulting dressing will be a beautiful golden yellow. 

You're going to want to eat this right away, not only because it's irresistibly flavorful, but because the colors become muted after some time. And you know how much I love color.

But somehow, I doubt that advising you to devour with haste is the worst suggestion I could make.

*Meyer lemons are sort of a mix between and orange and a lemon. They're much sweeter and add great flavor without being too sour. 

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