For this latest post on all things Dallas, inspiration for this Spinach and Wheat Berries Salad with Blueberries recipe comes from local Dallas artist and musician Sam Lao. She’s supertalented and a true artist, who I expect will blow-up soon.
I’ve always marvelled at the fact that despite only having a 6th grade education, my grandfather had such a brilliant mind and knew so many things. It’s not like he had Google or Wikipedia to look up stuff. Even more impressive was the level of depth he could go on any subject. As I’ve gotten to know his side of the family over the years, I’ve been keenly aware of just how interesting many of them are. The one connecting factor I can attribute this to is the military. Most of the men, including my grandfather served which meant they either travelled abroad and/or lived in different cities over the years. Either way my grandfather was a listener, yet curious and seemed to be well known and liked by everyone even though he was not outgoing by any means.
Food was always interesting to him. Not so much from a culinary perspective though he was very skilled as a cook, but more for what food represented. In his mind food and a connection to it was a way to broaden one’s horizon. We would take day trips to the fancy boutique grocery store across town where he’d educate me on the different options and varieties of fruits and vegetables. You may see jack fruit, persimmons, or different heirloom vegetables. We rarely bought anything, but I was receiving a rich education that would impact me in so many ways. Besides becoming grounded in my understanding of where food came from and how it was sourced, those trips changed my mental outlook. The seed was planted that there was a bigger world than “the hood.” During those times I would take mental notes at the store and as soon as we returned home I would write in my torn and worn blue spiral notebook, which for all intents and purposes was a diary that I kept in my pillow case. Most of my entries back then went something like, “when I get a job I’m going to buy this or make this dish” or “when I get time go to the library and research this…”
On one occasion we bought these wild looking greens. In hindsight I’m thinking they were arugula but im not sure as it was all very new to me at the time. I just remember him serving them in a salad with some of the berries he had picked from our neighbor’s backyard tree as well as his favorite onions and cucumbers. This dish is in that mold. I paired blueberries with some fancy malabar spinach I recently bought at our local farmer’s market. Malabar is not really a spinach, but is actually a vine with a citrusy and peppery taste often used as you would a leaf vegetable. Though you will not see it in traditional markets, it’s a popular green in Asian, Indian, and even African cuisine so more likely to find in a market specific to these cultures. You can always grow your own as well. If not available, spinach or pretty much any other leafy green works in this recipe. I wanted something a little more substantial, but still vegan so I added wheat berry grains (farro and brown rice good substitutes) along with cherry tomatoes and topped it off with a very simple lime vinaigrette. I love cooking with fruit and vegetables combined such as this black rice and pomegranate seeds recipe.
Great beats, better eats. Enjoy!
Spinach Salad With Wheat Berries and Blueberries
- 1 cup hard wheat berries
- 2 cups spinach
- 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
- 10 cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 small golden beet roasted or boiled and diced
- 1/2 small red onion diced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot combine the wheat berries and enough water to come 2 inches over the wheat berries. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 1 hour, or until tender. Drain and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the wheat berries, spinach, beets, blueberries, onions, parsley, olive oil and lime juice. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.