Healthy Recipe: Wheat Berry Salad With Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

mommeal time

As we get nearer to the warmer months of summertime, my mind often turns to meals that are easy to make or even have on hand that are filling, satisfying, and versatile while still being healthy for you. Since it is often much more economical to pack lunch for my husband to take to work than it is for him to spend money everyday on a meal that usually isn't very good for him, I love to pack this particular salad for him because it goes a long way and keeps very well. In fact, the flavor only gets better the next day as the ingredients have more of a chance to mingle together.

The versatility of this salad is really only up to the limits of your imagination. By making a simple, homemade lemon and herb vinaigrette you are able to keep the calories down, while really packing in the flavor. Even though the vinaigrette recipe makes quite a bit more than you'll need for the salad, it is also fantastic as a marinade for chicken or fish before grilling.

The salad is really just a combination of whatever fresh vegetables you like and have on hand. In this case, we had mushrooms, celery, red bell peppers, and grape tomatoes as the main components. I also added some fresh feta cheese, then tossed the salad with enough of the vinaigrette to nicely coat everything without drowning it in dressing.

I also added some wheat berries to boost the 'filling' capabilities of the salad, which really makes it a meal, in and of itself. If you are using the wheat berries, you'll need to plan ahead a couple of hours since they take a long time to cook enough to eat, but you can easily cook them the night before and store them in the fridge until you want to toss the salad together. You could skip the wheat berries altogether or add some nice canned, flaked tuna or grilled chicken to this to change it up even more. The possibilities are limitless!

In honor of the warmer months ahead and picnic season about to burst into full bloom, I wanted to share these recipes with you so you can easily pack up a quick and healthy picnic and get outside and enjoy nature without a lot of fuss. Enjoy!

Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 4 generous portions. To make the wheat berries, you'll need to plan ahead.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, rinsed and diced
  • 5 button mushrooms, washed and cut
  • 10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Herb Vinaigrette
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Combine the berries, 1 quart of water, and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a medium pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn the heat down and allow the berries to simmer for 1 1/2 hours, until they are tender when you bite into one.
  3. Drain the berries well, and set them aside in a large bowl to cool, or cover and refrigerate them until ready to use.

When ready to make the salad, add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of wheat berries and toss together lightly. Cover and chill the salad for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley leaves, packed
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground red pepper flake

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender and puree till smooth.
  2. Aadd the olive oil to combine wel (slowly on low speed).
  3. Store the vinaigrette in a airtight container for up to 5 days.

Recipes are adapted from Brunch! by Gale Gand

What is your favorite go-to salad recipe? What ingredients do you love to use as salad mix-ins?

Holly blogs at PheMOMenon.com about the adventures of life with two wild little boys and one very sweet baby girl with Down syndrome and time spent in her favorite room in the house - the kitchen! Holly is married to a professional skydiver, how also thinks there is nothing wrong with jumping off of cliffs and bridges. Holly blogs in an attempt to keep what sanity motherhood and marriage leave her with and is trying to conquer her world, one recipe at a time. It’s cheaper than therapy, and much more tasty!  She is also the creator of The Hive—the blog forum for food bloggers in Utah.

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