This warm wheat berry dish, dressed up with dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, and a delicious tangy butter sauce, makes a great destination for nutty roasted Brussels sprouts. I've always loved the taste and texture of wheat berries, but their cooking time (usually 60 to 70 minutes but sometimes up to 80 or 90) used to frustrate me. But now I've learned that I can cook them ahead and keep them in the fridge. Then all I have to do is gently warm them back up to use in this or any similar dish. I've also recently learned — from one of my testers — that parboiled wheat berries are on the market. (They take only 15 minutes to cook!) I wouldn't choose to buy these, as I don't think the texture would be as nice. But read packages carefully; if you wind up with them, adjust your cooking time accordingly. If you decide to make this recipe in one stretch, just wait to cook the Brussels sprouts until the wheat berries have been cooking for at least 50 minutes. Bringing the two together with the sauce happens quickly at the end. Serve alongside a cup of New Southwestern Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.
Serves 3 or 4
3/4 cup winter or hard red wheat berries
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into eight pieces
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
2 to 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1. In a pasta pot, Dutch oven, or other large sauce pot, combine the wheat berries, 1/2 tsp salt, and 10 to 12 cups water (enough to cover the wheat berries by three fingers) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer (it can be a rapid simmer or a low boil) and cook, partially covered, until the wheat berries are tender. Begin checking after 50 minutes, although this may take up to 90 minutes. (Most are usually done between 60 and 70 minutes. The berries should be pleasantly chewy. If you taste early and often, you'll get a sense of what "done" feels like.) Drain the berries very well in a colander, shaking the colander and tipping it around to remove as much excess water as possible. Return the wheat berries to the pot, cover, and set aside off the heat. They will stay warm for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 475F. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with the oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Arrange the sprouts in a single layer in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish (they will be snug). Roast until brown and tender, stirring once, if you like, 18 to 22 minutes. If the sprouts finish ahead of the wheat berries, keep them in the pan, loosely covered with aluminum foil.
3. In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, vinegar, maple syrup, and lemon zest and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, just for about 15 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, one or two pieces at a time, whisking after each addition until the butter is melted and creamy. (Don't reheat the mixture or the butter will break and the sauce will not be creamy.) In a large mixing bowl, combine the wheat berries, Brussels sprouts, and cranberries; season with 1/2 tsp salt; and pour the sauce over them. Stir gently but thoroughly. Add half of the walnuts, half of the parsley and stir well again.
4. Serve warm, garnished with the remaining walnuts and parsley.
From The Fresh & Green Table by Susie Middleton. Copyright 2012 by Susie Middleton. Excerpted by permission of Chronicle Books.