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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wheat Berry Spring Salad with Sauteed Tofu

Over the weekend, I tried out making this Wheat Berry Spring Salad from Planet Green.  I had no experience with wheat berries (and by no experience I mean I had no clue they existed) prior to making this awesome salad, but after discovering how easy and delicious they are I can't wait to incorporate them into all sorts of dishes.  So, brace yourselves for an onset of wheat berry filled recipes.

The trickiest part of this recipe could be finding the wheat berries.  None of my local grocers apparently sell wheat berries, so I made my way over to Whole Foods and found them in the bulk foods aisle.  I am willing to bet you can find them in any natural foods store.  While you're at the store getting wheat berries, pick up a bottle of Garam Marsala (in the spices), you'll see why later.

The salad was such a hit at the BBQ I took it to that I couldn't resist making it again for myself.  Only this time I modified the recipe slightly and added sauteed tofu to it to make it more substantial and great for a healthy but filling dinner.

Here's my slightly modified recipe:

Wheat Berry Spring Salad with Sauteed Tofu

  • ½ cup wheat berries
  • Handful fresh basil leaves
  • 14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 large handfuls baby salad greens (the original recipe calls for arugula but I suggest picking whatever salad mix you like best)
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 1-2 Tbsp Garam Marsala
1)  Bring a big pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add wheat berries. Cook over high heat for 1 hour. Drain wheat berries and let cool completely.  The berries will plump up significantly so be sure to add plenty water for them to absorb.

2) Place the drained and cubed tofu in a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil generously so all the cubes are covered.  Season with Garam Marsala (if you prefer, you can simply use salt and pepper or any other seasoning).  Toss well so each cube has a good coating of olive oil and Garam Marsala.  Drain any extra olive oil.

3) Transfer tofu to skillet over medium heat.  Flip occasionally so each side gets equally cooked.  Give each side adequate time to cook - approximately 7 to 10 minutes.  When each cube looks sufficiently browned, remove from heat and let it semi-cool before adding to salad.  You don't want to add too much heat to the salad.  While you're letting the tofu sautee, prepare the salad.

4)   Add basil, tomatoes, chickpeas, salad greens, and tofu to a bowl.

5) Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together.  Add salt and pepper.

6) Drizzle the olive oil mixture over salad and toss well.  Top with wheat berries. Optional: I squeezed a little extra lemon juice over the top of the salad just for a little extra.

Serves 2-3

Notes on Tofu preparation: I plan to do a much further in depth look at preparing tofu, but for now I will offer some quick tips.  The best way to get tofu to drain well, absorb flavor well, and cook well, is to freeze it overnight and then let it thaw out during the day.  Once de-thawed, I recommend slicing it in half and placing it on a plate wrapped in layers of thick paper towl.  Put a plate on top and set something heavy on it to help squeeze all the water out.  Let it sit and drain for up to an hour (sometimes more if necessary).  

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