Chewy wheat berries, sweet pears and crunchy almonds make an easy, pack-able lunch bowl. Wheat Berry Lunch Bowl is vegan.
This bowl speaks to me.
I am a salad eater. And that might be cliché, expected or routine even. Because actually it is all those things. Almost every day - Monday through Friday - I pack a salad for my lunch. And I don't care what you say, I like it. And while I'd like to think I have the whole "interesting salad making" technique down, sometimes it feels rather ordinary.
This Wheat Berry Lunch Bowl is more than just another lunch salad
A bowl full of textures and flavours that come together in what I think might be a perfect combination of fresh and crunchy. And just makes me feel like I got it all together, ya know what I mean? Like "I've got this. I've got this salad in my lunch and I've got everything else too."
Wheat berries are one of my favourite grains. They have the most wonderful chewy texture and hold up very nicely in dishes like this. And they don't mind hanging out for a couple of days in a vinaigrette. Truly a bonus.
You can make this salad on the weekend and it will keep nicely for several days.
How to Cook Wheat Berries
Wheat berries take some time to cook. So you have to plan ahead. This i not a meal you can just throw together on a whim. I like to soak the dry wheat berry grains before cooking if I have time and if I remember. Soaking will speed up the cooking time.
Rice cooker method
I've discovered that most grains cook very nicely in a rice cooker. It's true 🤓 there is no rule that says you can only put rice in a rice cooker! Once cooked, they are ready to use in dishes like this throughout the week. Extra cooked grains can be stored in the freezer if I'm not sure I'll use them up right away. They will keep in the freezer for a couple of months.
To cook wheat berries in the rice cooker, soak wheat berries in hot water for at least 1 hour, or in cool water overnight. Rinse and drain wheat berries. Use a water to grain ratio of 2:1. So for 1 cup pre-soaked dry wheat berries add 2 cups water.
Without a rice cooker, I find wheat berries cook best like pasta. In a big pot of salted water, boil, then simmer. This will take about an hour. I don't bother soaking if I am using this method.
Fill a large sauce pot with salted water and add grains. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Simmer 1 hour, or until grains are tender. Add more water if the pot seems to get dry. Drain and use in your recipe.
Instant pot method
This post would not be complete without a mention of how to cook whole grains in the Instant Pot. My IP has changed my whole grain cooking game for the better. The Instant Pot is definitely the quickest method mentioned here. No soaking required. I like to use the saute function for a couple of minutes to toast the grains - it adds a bit more flavor.
In the insert of the instant pot. add dry whole wheat berries. Use the saute (or browning function) to briefly toast the grains. Just until you can start to smell them. Stir while using the saute function. This will only take a couple of minutes. Press cancel. Add 1-1/2 cups water for every 1 cup fo dry grains. Secure the IP lid and set the vent to closed. Set manual high-pressure function for 25 minutes. Once cook cycle is complete, allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes before venting and opening the IP. Grains should be perfectly cooked. Drain off any excess liquid.
1-1/2 cups of water for 1 cup grains. 25 minutes on high pressure.
Wheat berries are not gluten-free so if you must stay away from gluten, you will have to sub in something else. Quinoa or a medium or short whole grain brown rice works too.
A few notes about this wheat berry lunch bowl:
- This salad keeps well for a few days refrigerated and makes a great packed lunch. Pears will darken a bit with the dressing but texture and flavour stay fresh.
- Wheat berries take a while to cook, I like to soak mine overnight to remove some of the phytates and improve the absorbancy of the nutrients. Soaking also speeds up cooking time, a little bit, but is not necessary for good results if you don't have time to soak, or just can't plan ahead.
- Use a rice cooker to cook the grains! Place soaked and drained grains in the bowl of the rice cooker, add 2 cups of water for each cup of the pre-soaked measured dry grain, set and leave it be. Come back to perfectly cooked grains.
- You will need about 1/2 cup uncooked wheat berries to get 1-1/2 cups, as required for this recipe.
- Don't skimp of the parsley here if you can help it. It is the only green in the salad and it brightens all the flavours. It's more than just a pretty face.
- Substitute apple for the pear if you'd like.
- I used Tamari toasted almonds. You can use plain toasted almonds as I have noted below. Tamari almonds add a nice bit of umami to the salad. You can buy them here or make your own.
Simple Pear Wheat Berry Salad
- 1-1/2 cups cooked wheat berries
- 1 red pepper diced
- 1 cup of sliced radishes a small bunch
- 3 green onions thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds chopped
- 1 pear cored and chopped
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large salad bowl combine all dressing ingredients and whisk to combine.
- Add salad ingredients on top of dressing - wheat berries, red pepper, radish, green onions, parsley, almonds and chopped pear. Toss well to combine. Serve immediately or store, refridgerated in an air tight container for several days.