Wheat berry Salad with Woodland Bacon, Roasted Beets, and Garlic Scapes
Right around the time that beets start coming in the late spring, it feels like growth of everything on the farm explodes—many of our herbs are going strong, garlic scapes come in, we start to see our later summer veg (tomatoes, peppers, etc., start to bloom). And this salad certainly celebrates that explosion.
It’s cheerily colorful and makes use of so much of what we’re producing on the farm RIGHT NOW.
(Note: There are directions below about how to cook wheatberries. Know that cooked wheatberries freeze well and that you can make a huge batch and use what you need for this, while storing batches for future needs in the freezer)
1 cup Wheat berries
¼lb Woodland Bacon
3-4 medium size Beets, any variety, with greens
2-3 each Garlic Scapes, blanched and chopped
4 oz Blue Cheese or Feta Cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp Fresh herbs, chopped (any combination of dill, cilantro, bronze fennel, oregano, etc)
Red Wine Honey Vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the wheatberries
Take a quick second to sift through wheat berries, discarding any stones. In a medium saucepan, combine wheat berries, 4 cups water, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium low heat, and simmer for about 1 hour. 1 cup of uncooked wheat berries will expand to about 3 cups cooked. Feel free to experiment with adding in seasoning to the cooking water such as garlic, onion, or even substituting broth for water.
Wheatberries are very forgiving, it’s hard to actually overcook them! When fully cooked, wheatberries are tender but retain a chewy texture. At the hour mark, taste a few and decide if they are to your liking. If not, or if in doubt, continue cooking. When finished, remove from heat and drain the excess water. Cool the wheatberries quickly by spreading them out on a sheet pan. Once cooled, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. Wheatberries can also be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months! Make sure they are completely cooled and drained as well as possible before freezing. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Prepare Salad Ingredients:
Roast the Beets - Remove the beet greens and set aside. Wrap the beets in foil and roast in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30-45 minutes. When done, the beets should be tender and pierce easily with a small paring knife or toothpick. Let cool completely. With a paper towel, rub off the outer skin of the beets. Dice the cooked, peeled beets into cubes. Chop the beet greens and reserve to toss with the salad.
Fry the Bacon
Dice the bacon into 1 inch pieces and fry. Reserve the delicious bacon fat to make vinaigrettes or to use in place of cooking oil for other recipes! Crumble the bacon and set aside.
Blanch the Garlic Scapes
Bring a pot of water and generous pinch of salt to a boil. Add in garlic scapes and blanch for about 30 seconds. Remove the scapes and immediately run under cold water, or place in a small mixing bowl of ice water. Raw scapes are a bit hard to bite into and quite strong in flavor. Blanching and shocking makes them easier to chew and more mild in flavor. Perfect for chopping up and adding to salads.
Putting it all together
Combine wheatberries, beets, bacon, garlic scapes, beet greens, and cheese in a salad bowl. Just before serving, toss with red wine honey vinaigrette and garnish with fresh herbs.