11 February 2013

Powerful Winter Salad

Grains and Greens Winter Salad

I sent the first two chapters of my novel off to a respected author who wrote me back, told me my writing was beautiful but boring and those two chapters might need to be cut entirely.  The book I thought was almost ready for publication needs its nose cut off.  Even though I knew in my heart she was right, I was knocked sideways. I cried a little. I posted a flounce on Facebook, declared I would put the whole thing in a box and forget about it.

I felt that way for fifteen entire minutes before I blew my nose, squared my shoulders and went to read chapter three of my novel. It turned out that chapter three could be an excellent chapter one with only minor corrections.

In December I went back to yoga class after a long absence. I went with excellent intentions. And then in January we had weather-related school delays and I had a nasty head-cold and I was out of class for three weeks.  I had to drag myself there this morning, not because I didn't want to get back into the habit, but because the getting into part of a habit is hard, and I feel weak in chaturanga, and my balance isn't what is should be and if I'd only gone to yoga these last three weeks I would be so much better than I am now.

Yoga class was hard, but rising from forward bend into mountain pose I felt powerful. In that simple movement I was in control, stable, and stretched out to reach for something higher. I'm not where I was, or where I'd like to be, but there was a small victory, anyway.

I love green salads. I eat them regularly all summer long. But it is not summer, and the fresh lettuces and other veggies that make a summer salad delicious are some combination of foreign, expensive, tasteless, and ugly. Last week, I bought the last of the baby spinach at the farmers' market.  Even with global warming and frost covers there are just times when you can't get salad greens that haven't been shipped in from a million miles away.   The produce section of the local organic market is filled with leafy greens, kale, and chard, and dandelions, plants that can survive a mild winter, and are full of nutrients to support your body through the short days and germ-infested rooms that make up winter.

Wheat Berries

These are wheat berries, about as whole grain as whole grains get. They also take two hours to cook. They are the anti-fast food. But when they are cooked, they are chewy and delicious and if you want to get all excited about things being good for you, they're full of slow-digesting fiber.

Together they make this lovely winter salad. The wheat berries take time to cook, but otherwise this is fairly easy to make, and it's a nice thing to pack for lunch. I used ruby chard and dandelion greens, but you could use anything. Kale would be lovely, or spinach. Maybe skip collards which really do need more cooking.

It's a salad because it has salad dressing. I just used my usual dressing, which includes honey. If you're trying to make this vegan, you could sub in maple syrup or just sugar. Don't skip the sweetener though, since greens have some bitterness.

for the Salad:

1 cup wheat berries
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 bunch leafy greens
1 medium yellow (or red) onion

for the dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon honey (or vegan sweetener)
salt and pepper to taste

Put wheat berries and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until berries are chewy but not at all crunchy, about two hours. There's no need to fuss with them, and they're hard to over cook.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large bowl.
When the wheat berries are almost done, half and thinly slice the onions. Put the onions in the dressing bowl, toss and set aside.

Wash the greens and chop them small, stems included. Put the greens in the bottom of a large colander in the sink.  Pour the wheat berries and excess water over the greens.

Add the well drained wheat and greens to the large bowl and toss until well mixed. The heat from the grains and the oil in the dressing will wilt the greens and soften the onion.  Taste and adjust seasoning. 


  1. Interesting. I've never had wheat berries. Do I look for them in the whole foods section? (Duh. I suppose so.) In a little bag like bulgur wheat, or loose like beans?

    I have no idea what chaturanga is and I fall over whenever I try to stand on one foot, but I promise I will make it back to yoga one of these days. Next week.

    1. I buy my wheat berries from the bulk section at MOMs.

      Chaturanga is the yoga push-ups.

  2. Good for you going back to yoga! And I'm glad that you were able to feel strong there ... that you were able to find your footing. You ARE a good writer ... people don't bother to critique books that aren't worth publishing.

    1. Note that I did not feel strong after the ab work when I completely fell out of plank pose. I mean, my body was just like "Nope, sorry, no plank for you right now." and I crashed to the mat. I don't *think* anyone noticed.

      This critique came from the person running the class I'm taking, so she was contractually obliged.



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