Friggin’ Fig Wheat Berries
Have you heard of the salad sweet spot? It’s a tricky thing to nail down, but essentially the salad sweet spot is a dish that you can easily have for dinner one night (maybe with a protein on the side), but then also bring the salad for lunch the next day.
To qualify for the salad sweet spot, your salad situations needs to:
A) Keep well.
B) Not be boring.
C) Be filling enough as a meal.
This salad knocks all of those things out of the park. Even though it only has a few simple ingredients, the combo of the figs, lemon, and honey makes it really addictive and also gives you lots of paring options. You could serve pretty much any protein with this bad boy or just snack on a big bowl of it during a busy lunch.
It’s hard to go wrong with friggin’ figs!
1) Cook wheat berries according to package. I like to simmer mine in water until tender, about 35-45 minutes. Then drain.
2) In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, orange juice, dried figs and honey over low heat. Heat mixture and stir together. Once steaming, remove from heat and let cool to allow figs to soak up mixture.
3) Toss wheat berries with olive oil and stir in diced celery.
4) Stir in fig mixture along with almonds and lemon zest. Season mixture well with salt and pepper and, optionally, fresh parsley.
Serve warm or chilled. LEftover salad will keep fine for 4-5 days in the fridge.
A Fig Soak
You want dried figs for this salad. For starters, you probably can’t find fresh figs this time of year and I would be skeptical of any you can find. Also though, fresh figs will start to break down really quickly and make for a big mushy salad.
Dried figs are sturdier and you can use them to soak up other flavors.
Dice up the dried figs and toss them in a small saucepan with the rice vinegar, orange juice, and honey. Bring this all to a slight simmer and then let it cool slowly so the dried fruit soak up all that goodness.
Meanwhile, you can chop some business.
By business, I mean celery.
Cooking Wheat Berries
You need a really sturdy grain for this salad. The figs have a strong flavor and you want something to soak up some of that sauce and also even out the sweetness of it. Something like quinoa would be too delicate for this salad.
Even though wheat berries take a while to cook, they are a great option and low stress. Just simmer them in a lot of water until they are really tender (about 40-45 minutes most likely) and then drain them. The good news is that it’s almost impossible to overcook wheat berries.
When the wheat berries are drained, pour in the dried fig mixture and olive oil and stir to combine. You might have a little liquid in the bowl but don’t worry, the wheat berries will soak it right up in a minute or two.
The base of this salad is done, but my favorite part is the crunch from lots of celery and almonds and a nice citrus kick from a bunch of lemon zest. I used the zest from a whole lemon and it was not too much.
Season the whole thing with salt and pepper and you’re in business.
If you’re in any kind of meal rut, this is a good escape. It’s a simple salad but has just enough different ingredients to wake up the taste buds.
Make it as a side dish (maybe for Thanksgiving?) or for a cold weekday lunch option.
Welcome to the salad sweet spot!