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Wheat Berry Salad with Dried Cranberries, Apples, Arugula, and Goat Cheese

Knowing that  wheat berries are good for you is only part of the reason I love cooking and eating them…

Wheat berries are whole wheat kernels…a  true whole grain, loaded with nutrition. Their chewy bite, and subtle nutty, earthy flavor, add a wonderful dimension to all kinds of salads, soups, and pilafs, whether sweet or savory. They are sturdy enough to hold up to salad dressing, and subtle enough to be served with cinnamon and honey as a breakfast dish.

It used to be that wheat berries were found only in health food  stores, but thanks to a growing awareness of healthy eating, most grocery stores have added natural foods sections, which is where you will find them. Wheat berries are cooked in the same fashion as rice, it’s what you add to them that really make them something special.

I like to mix the wheat berries with a blend of other grains, such as brown and wild rice, as I have done here.  Wheat Berry Salad with Dried Cranberries, Apples, Arugula, and Goat Cheese is substantial enough to hold its own as an entree, or may be served as a side salad. You may even want to change it up a bit this year and bring this salad  to your Thanksgiving table, as the flavors pair really well with turkey, and work as an alternative to traditional stuffing.

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Wheat Berry Salad with Dried Cranberries, Apples, Arugula, and Goat Cheese

Dressing:

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 teaspoons honey

2 tablespoons raspberry balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Zest from one orange

3/4 cup olive oil

Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl until well blended.

Salad:

3/4 cup wheat berries, rinsed

1 cup wild rice blend

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 medium apples, quartered, cored, and sliced into 1-inch-pieces

1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

1 cup baby arugula, cut into ciffinade

1 cup crumbled goat cheese

Place wheat berries in  a large saucepan filled with enough salted water to cover them by several inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, covered, for 35 minutes. Add the wild rice blend;  bring to a boil again, lower the heat then simmer and cook,  covered, for an additional 45-50 minutes, or until brown rice is tender.  Drain  well;  cool, and transfer to large bowl. Add all remaining salad ingredients to bowl along with the dressing. Toss well, thoroughly combining ingredients. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

2 -3 entree servings

6-8 side servings

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