Wheat berries have become the unexpected star in our kitchen this month. Before spending time with Janna & Shira, Founders of GRAIN, wheat berries weren't getting the attention they deserved and to be honest grains in general weren't getting notice beyond the usual suspects. Sure, we make over-night oats, delicious vanilla chia pudding and top everything with quinoa but wheat berries are in a class of their own.
Wheat berries are chewy, that means you need to take time to actually chew them! How many times have you found yourself shoveling carbs into your mouth at the end of a long day? Most grains are easy to eat quickly & unconsciously. But not wheat berries. They demand your time and attention, plus require you to actually, "chew your food," to quote mothers everywhere. Eating slowly and spending the time to let your teeth and saliva break down the carbs is a cornerstone to good nutrition because digestion starts in your mouth.
Wheat berries will remain a staple in our kitchen and this recipe from GRAIN will be in regular rotation. Chew well!
Wheat Berry Gratin with Leeks, Feta + Winter Squash:
Adapted from the The New York Times
2 pounds winter squash, peeled and cut in small dice (about 1/2 inch)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
1 cup feta, crumbled
1 cup cooked GRAIN Wheat Berries
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper
Yield: Serves 6
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Place squash on baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss squash until evenly coated with oil. Place in oven and roast until tender and lightly coloured, about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Turn heat down to 375 degrees.
Heat another tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add leeks. Cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt and continue to cook, stirring often, until tender, another 3 to 4 minutes. When ready, add cooked squash to pan and toss together. Remove from heat. Once cool, add the cut basil leaves.
In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add salt to taste (remembering that feta is very salty) and feta, and beat together until feta has broken up into eggs. Stir in squash and leek mixture and Wheat Berries. Scrape into oiled baking dish. Drizzle remaining oil over top. Bake for 35 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from heat. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature topped with fresh dill.
Advance preparation: You can roast the squash up to 2 days ahead of making the gratin. Cooked Wheat Berries will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator and freeze well too.
Purchase GRAIN Wheat Berries for this recipe here.
Even better, get a FREE Abeego when you order a GRAIN Starter Bundle until January 31st!
Learn more about Janna & Shira, Founder of GRAIN in our Kindred Kitchens feature.