With all of the hoopla surrounding quinoa and other trendy seeds and grains, wheat berries have fallen a bit out of favor in recent years. But there are plenty of reasons to enjoy these nutty, nutrient-packed, whole grain berries, as well as a slew of ways to cook them up to keep things interesting. While you could go all fancy and upgrade to farro, spelt or kamut berries — all relatives of the general wheat grain — your wallet will thank you for going with the more generic variety, which costs just a few bucks per pound. Keep reading to get all the essential details!
Wheat berries are a fantastic whole grain choice as long as you avoid “pearled” versions. Those strip the fiber-packed bran layer, speeding up the cooking times at the expense of nutritional value. Truly whole grain options pack a whole lot of plant-based protein and iron along with about a quarter of your daily fiber requirement in each wholesome serving, and all for less than 200 calories to boot. Pro tip: For those who are looking to get the biggest protein punch per serving, seek out hard red wheat berries before other varieties — they contain the highest amount of all wheat types.
There are a slew of different ways to use wheat berries, and a lot of us have probably even eaten them without realizing it. How’s that? Once these hulled wheat kernels are milled, they become whole wheat flour! Beyond grinding into flour for baked goods, wheat berries are a great contender for sprouting and simmering. The latter method — whether soaked ahead of time or not — yields soft and chewy grains that become a delightful centerpiece for grain salads and more. As for soaking, if the recipe doesn’t indicate that you should take this step before cooking, go ahead and skip the extra planning and work. Alright, who’s ready for some recipe inspo?
1. Wheat Berry Breakfast Porridge: Give your usual bowl of oatmeal a rest and opt for this spiced fruit, nut and wheat berry porridge instead. To make a totally hassle-free breakfast, feel free to simmer it overnight in a slow cooker. (via The Whinery)
2. Sprouted Wheat and Rye Bread: A smattering of rye berries add an extra dash of complementary flavor to every slice of this four-ingredient loaf. Simply spread with a slick of butter, cheese, nut butter or jam and enjoy! (via The Awesome Green)
3. Pan-Fried Halloumi and Wheat Berry Salad: It’s hard not to love the combo of sweet, salty, tangy and nutty flavors in this coconut, caramel-drizzled (yes, you read that correctly) grain salad. (via JJ Begonia)
4. Wheat Berry and Sweet Potato Bake: Eschew the usual marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole in favor of this beautiful bake. The mix of garlic, herbs and salty gruyere works wonders to highlight the wheat berries’ nutty flavor. (via Cooking Books)
5. Wheat Berry Tabbouleh Salad With Apples and Feta: No one will guess how easy this elegant salad is to throw together. Simply cook the grains in your slow cooker, allow them to cool, then toss it all together with herbs, apples, cheese, almonds and a simple, homemade honey-lemon dressing. (via Chatelaine)
Do you stock wheat berries in your pantry? Share your favorite ways to use them — in any form — in the comments!