I remember the days when whole grains were the latest and greatest food trend.
First, there was an explosion of whole grain breads, the options beyond “white” and “whole wheat” multiplied overnight. Other food products soon followed suit: pasta, tortilla chips, granola bars, popcorn, and breakfast cereal all claimed to be “made with whole grains” to appeal to the health conscious consumer (regardless of their actual nutritional content).
With time, the hype around whole grains faded, and the spotlight shifted to other foods. But unlike some passing food trends, whole grains have earned a spot in my heart. They are a diverse bunch: their tastes, textures, and appearances vary greatly. Generally speaking, they’re more filling due to their higher fibre content, and contain more protein, minerals and vitamins compared to their refined counterparts.
The whole grain I picked up at the store was wheat. Yup, that’s right, the same wheat that’s used to make wheat flour. Each wheat berry is made up of the bran (outer brown shell), the germ (the part which will become the plant if the grain germinates), and the endosperm (starchy part which is often ground into white flour).
This salad is made with wheat berries, lentils, fresh cucumbers, and tomatoes. It’s seasoned with a pomegranate dressing, and topped with spiced peanuts to garnish. This recipe is so easy to toss together, super satisfying, and tastes better the next day. Served slightly warm or cold, the tangy dressing, chewy grains, and crunchy nuts make an unforgettable meal.
Green Lentil & Wheat Berry Salad
- 3/4 cup wheat berries, soaked for 3-5 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge.
- 3/4 cup green lentils
- 1/2 English cucumber, seeds removed (optional) and diced
- 3-4 Roma tomatoes, seeds removed (optional) and diced
- 1/3 cup blanched skinless peanuts, roughly chopped
- Salt, cayenne pepper, and cumin to taste
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- In a medium sized pot, bring 3 cups of water and the wheat berries to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
- To the same pot, add the green lentils and cook for 20 more minutes. The wheat berries and lentils should be tender, but not mushy. Drain well, and return the lentils and wheat berries to the pot.
- While the lentils and wheat berries are cooking, toast the peanuts in a skillet over medium-low heat. When they are golden brown, turn off the heat. Add salt, cayenne pepper, and cumin to taste. Reserve for garnish.
- Add diced cucumbers and tomatoes, pomegranate molasses, olive oil, and sugar to the cooked lentils and wheat berries. Mix well, season with salt to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp of salt).
- Garnish with toasted peanuts on top and serve.