Over the past few years, we’ve worked at adding more whole grains, more plant based proteins and more Mediterranean foods in our diet. This wheat berry and roasted red pepper salad also includes fresh basil, black olives and a lot of olive oil. It’s a winning combination for anyone on a Mediterranean diet as well as being really tasty. And it’s simple to prepare!
Making a Salad with Wheat Berries
While salad bases are usually made with greens (one of my favorites is this arugula salad with roasted beets and parmesan), whole grains make great salad bases as well. Think quinoa, wheat berries, farro or bulgur.
I like a formula of a sturdy base, a roasted vegetable for bold flavor, a nut for some crunch, a single herb and then a complementary cheese. In this case, I’m using olives instead of a nut. Red peppers round out the profile here because of their fantastic flavor when roasted.
One can always buy roasted red peppers in a jar, but I love to make them myself. If it’s not outdoor grilling weather for you, they can be roasted indoors on a gas range, or my new favorite method of using an air fryer to roast a red pepper.
Origin of this Wheat Berry Salad
Over the holidays I received a cookbook focused on recipes from Tuscany. One of them was a wheat berry salad with cherry tomatoes and feta.
The two problems I had with that recipe was that I don’t like cherry tomatoes and I really don’t like feta. Many people do though, so feel free to sub it back in here!
And this is what I love about new cookbooks, looking through the recipes for inspiration and using them as a blueprint.
The rest of the recipe was great. Chopped kalamata olives…. a big handful of torn basil… and plenty of tasty extra virgin olive oil
So what you see below is where I landed. The wheat berries and roasted red peppers make up the base and everything else is mixed in.
Assembling the Wheat Berry and Roasted Red Pepper Salad
The only major prep work here is making the roasted red peppers. Because they take about the same amount of time as cooking wheat berries, you should start them together. That gives you half an hour or so to do other things in parallel.
Olives can be chopped, olive oil can be poured and olives can be quartered. The only thing to wait on is tearing the basil. I like to wait until just before serving so that it’s super fragrant and most flavorful
After your wheat berries and roasted red peppers have cooled (you don’t want them melting the cheese), put all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Salt and pepper to taste.
The only addition you may want to consider is a touch of acid from fresh lemon juice or a little white wine vinegar.
This will stand up well with a sturdy fish or any seasoned meat.
Wheat Berry and Roasted Red Pepper Recipe
This Wheat Berry and Roasted Red Pepper salad is simple to prepare and is a Mediterranean Diet winner with plenty of basil, olive oil and whole grains
- 1 Cup Wheat Berries rinsed thoroughly
- 2 Cups Water
- 2 Roasted Red Peppers chopped
- 1/2 Cup Fresh Mozzarella Torn into Pieces
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves
- 10 Pitted Kalamata Olives Quartered
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Bring water to a boil, add rinsed wheat berries and reduce to a low simmer. Cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes
Roast the red peppers, remove the skins, tops, seeds and ribs. Let them cool and chop
Hand tear the mozzarella balls and basil leaves. Quarter the black olives
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season to taste