I was raised in small village in Holland and our food was very basic. We grew some of our food, and our diet mainly consists of bread, dairy products, fruit, potatoes vegetables and some meat. My mum only used a little salt to season our food, there was no garlic or any other spices to be found in our house. Sound unimaginable now but back then it was normal, I didn’t know any different. Oh, boy, was I up for a culinary ride when I moved to Italy at age seventeen and entered a career that would take me around the world! I remember being in Spain for a job, where they served toasted bread with fresh tomatoes and garlic, a very common side dish called pan con tomate. I couldn’t believe my taste buds when I took the first bite and naively asked the crew the name of this miracle flavor. The answer was incredulous, and accompanied by looks of sheer disbelief. Did the señorita mean garlic? I was blown away as I realized that a single plant could add so much to a dish. It quickly dawned on me how much I’d been missing. I started opening my mind to explore and discover new flavors every day.
My mum was visiting last week and I took her on a culinary journey. Even though over the years she’s become more creative and she eats a great variety of food there were still so many things she had never heard of and never tried before. Every day again I introduced her to new food and she loved it. I had her try acai, chia seeds, vegan food, raw fish, smoked salmon, falafel and chicken curry. It was so much fun to see her enjoy all these new flavors and textures. We cooked together and talked a lot about health and nutrition. When my “Integrative nutrition” study book came in she picked it up and couldn’t stop reading. She went home inspired and happy. We had some great bonding time and I’m grateful we share this interest now!
When I was Vegan for a week I discovered wheat berries at the local farmers market. I really like the sweet, nutty taste and it has delightful chewy texture. At first I thought they weren’t fully cooked but after a few bites I really enjoyed the texture. I enjoy finding new delicious ways of satisfying my big (healthy) appetite. This recipe is a really satisfying vegan meal, full of vitamins and fiber!
Wheat berries can take a fair amount of time to cook (up to 50 minutes), so making a big batch in the beginning of the week and storing it in the refrigerator is both a smart idea and a great beginning to many quick, healthy meals throughout the week! And it’s cheap too, I got a bag for $1.50!
- ½ cup soft spring wheat berries (makes 1 cup)
- 1½ cup water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups red cabbage + kale, chopped
- 1 cup green apple, chopped
- 2/3 cup avocado
- 4 tbsp pistachios, unsalted
- 1 tbsp margarine or a splash of olive oil (optional)
- salt to taste
- Bring ½ cup wheat berries and 1 ½ cup water to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover the pan.
- After half an hour start sautéing the red cabbage and kale in some olive oil. Set aside
- Chop up the apple and avocado.
- Set four tablespoons of pistachios aside.
- After 40 minutes, start checking for doneness by scooping out a few berries and carefully tasting after they've cooled a bit. They should be chewy but not tough. If not quite done, continue cooking and check the wheat berries every 5 minutes.
- Drain the berries in the strainer and transfer to a bowl.
- Toss with a splash of olive oil or mix in 1 tbsp margarine + a pinch of salt.
- Divide the wheatberries and all ingredients and mix it.
- If not using right away, store the cooked wheat berries in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Gently reheat in a frying pan over low heat until hot, or serve at room temperature
- Do wheat berries need to be soaked?
- I pre-soaked the wheat berries (overnight) but after doing some research it seems like it only cooks 10 minutes faster if you wouldn’t soak them. So no need in doing that.
- A normal serving of wheat berries is 1/4 cup dry which, when cooked, yields 1/2-cup serving.