I maybe went overboard. Just a wee bit.
As you might suspect, I love watching cooking shows. Top Chef is my favourite, and every time, it seems, the contestants cook something, I’m yelling at the screen “edit, dammit! Edit!!” And then, inevitably, the judges will say “there was too much going on on this plate, you need to edit.”
I should really be a judge on Top Chef.
IRL when I’m cooking dinner or even making tasty recipes for you guys, I try to keep it on the simple side. Most of you like easy, simple recipes that aren’t going to take you hours to cook, or require weird and exotic ingredients.
But sometimes I go a little crazy, and today is one of those days.
This is a transitionary recipe. Parts of it are very springy and parts of it are still mired in winter, but together, it makes a tasty, hearty salad.
And there’s a lot going on.
It starts with wheatberries, whole grains of wheat that are nutty and full of fibre and protein. Then there’s roasted root vegetables; here I chose squash and golden beets. It’s a salad, so you gotta have some greens, right? Swiss chard (again, more of a winter veg) was on sale on my local market the other day, so I decided to go that route. The leaves went into the salad, and then I pickled the stems and threw them in as garnish.
But wait! There’s more!
Watermelon radish is so pretty, and it adds a lovely crunch as well, so I shaved some of that in. You gotta have a little sweetness, so that element came from the presence of dried cranberries. Creaminess? You need that, natch. Cheese is the way to go to achieve that. And finally (yes, finally), I added some pumpkin seeds at the very end to give the salad some additional crunchy texture.
Phew! I think that’s it!
This is less of a recipe and more of a guideline. Feel free to sub out the wheatberries for whatever grains you have on hand–quinoa would work great, for example. Instead of chard, rocket would rock (see what I did there?), roasted fennel would probably be amazing, and if you can’t find watermelon radish, just use a different kind. It’s very forgiving. Make it your own.
Also, feel free to edit my version and leave some stuff out. I promise not to be offended. 😉
Winter-Spring Transition Salad
- 1 cup wheatberries (I’m using Grain, because they are Canadian, eh?)
- 1 small acorn squash
- 1 medium golden beet
- 4-5 swiss chard leaves, removed from stems, washed and torn
- pickled stems of the swiss chard
- watermelon radish (lo bak), peeled and thinly sliced
- soft, creamy cheese (if you aren’t vegan, go with something like a nice chevre. If you are vegan, do something like Blue Heron’s cumulus). Shavings of parmesan would also work
- a small handful of dried cranberries
- a small handful of pumpkin seeds
- white balsamic vinegar (I used Nonna Pia’s Pink Grapefruit)
- Cook the wheatberries according to package directions. I did mine in the Instant Pot on manual for 40 minutes, NPR (1 part wheatberries to 3 parts water).
- While the wheatberries are cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the acorn squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. Now slice it into half moons. Peel the golden beet, cut it in half, and then into quarters and finally 16ths. Toss the squash and beets with a little olive oil and toss onto a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until soft on the inside, and a little caramelized on the outside.
- Toss the chard leaves with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- To assemble: place the wheatberries on the bottom of the plate, and then arrange the squash and golden beet over top. Add a couple nice handfuls of the dressed chard leaves, and scatter around the pickled stems. Toss over all of this the cranberries, and then scatter about little bites of cheese. Finish with a scattering of pumpkin seeds, and additional drizzles of EVOO and balsamic vinegar, and maybe a little salt and pepper.