Friday, October 5, 2012

Quinoa, Wheat Berry and Chickpea Salad

This Sunday's Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you can look forward to the following offerings from Sweetwater Farm and Fair Valley Farm:
  • Delicata and Sweet Dumpling winter squash (try this salad)
  • Cauliflower (delicious roasted)
  • Stanley prune plums and Italian prune plums
  • cantaloupe and honeydew mellons
  • Carrots and radishes (try these buttery radishes with mint)
  • One last round of green beans (from SLO Farm
  • variety of tomatoes; 10 lb flats of San Marzano romas for $15 (freeze for winter)
  • variety of sweet and spicy peppers
  • kohlrabi (delicious raw in a lemon caper salad)
  • variety of cabbages, kale, collards, and greens (make some collards and beans)
  • broccoli and eggplants (try a roasted salad)
  • lettuces and baby lettuce salad mix
  • zucchini and summer squash
  • variety of potatoes including bargain bags of red potatoes
  • sweet onions, green onions, garlic, and leeks
  • fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, dill, thyme, oregano, and sage
  • tomato sauce and pesto
  • naturally fermented pickles, dilly beans, and sauerkraut
  • homemade jams (delicious in crepes)
  • Scottish oats (make this teff oatmeal)
  • a selection of dried beans and grains from Camas Country Mill
  • pastured chicken (try spatchcocked)
  • pastured pork: pork chops, shoulder roasts, and ham roasts
  • pastured lamb: ground, rib chops, and leg roasts (grill some burgers)

A few weeks ago we enjoyed a belated anniversary meal at Koho Bistro and had a delicious dish from the "Leaves and Weeds" section of their menu that I was inspired to recreate at home as the backdrop for Sweetwater Farm's sweetest of sweet cherry tomatoes. Their dish was a veritable cornucopia of grains and beans: wheat berries, barley, wild rice, quinoa, and chickpeas, all cooked separately with care. 

Without a restaurant kitchen staff on hand, I decided to pare this list down to chickpeas, a small grain like quinoa, and a large grain like wheat berries or barley. Despite the stack of pots it generates, this combination is definitely worth making and having on hand as an inspiration for quick lunches and dinners. The chickpeas are earthy, and the wheat berries and quinoa adds different notes of nuttiness. Like the Koho dish, I added toasted almonds and goats cheese. For this summer version, I added parsley and cherry tomatoes, but the grains and chickpeas lend themselves to infinite variations through the seasons, such as with roasted eggplant or delicata squash, or the green bean and red pepper version below. I'm sure these beans and grains complement each other nutritionally, but what's impressive is how well they complement each other in flavor, making a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Quinoa, Wheat Berry, and Chickpea Salad

cherry tomato version
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 cup dried wheat berries (or substitute barley)
3/4 cup dried quinoa
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed
6 ounces feta cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup flat parsley leaves, rinsed and chopped
1 large lemon
1 tsp pomegranate molasses or a honey
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste

1. If you remember, soak both the chickpeas and the wheat berries separately overnight. For each, rinse and place in 2.5 cups fresh water and simmer on low until they are soft, about 2 hours. Salt generously and strain if necessary. Cook the quinoa on a low simmer in 1.5 cups fresh water for about 15 minutes until it releases its halos and the water is absorbed. Combine the cooked chickpeas and grains into a large serving bowl.

2. Mix the dressing of juice and zest from one lemon, pomegranate molasses or honey, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt to taste. Toss into the grains.

3. Toss the dressed grains with the slivered almonds, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and parsley leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning. Enjoy the salad on its own, or layer it on tender greens.

green bean and red pepper version
for slivered almonds, substitute whole almonds toasted with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp smoked paprika;
for cherry tomatoes, substitute cooked green beans and chopped roasted red peppers;
for the feta cheese, substitute cubed aged gouda
for the rice wine vinegar, substitute sherry vinegar, and omit the molasses or honey.


Elin England said...

Looks lovely, Karen! Maybe one to include in my book?

Karen said...

Maybe! I like this salad because it's so versatile. I added another version that went in a Spanish direction with smoke paprika-spiced whole almonds, green beans, and roasted red peppers, which was also very tasty.