Here in the Midwest we are hovering between seasons. Winter is over but spring produce is just starting to trickle into the markets. Consequently, I end up eating some strange things that don’t necessarily belong to any season. This salad is a good example. It was inspired by something I ate at Hot Chocolate a couple of months ago that stuck in my head.
I didn’t always like beets and I can totally relate to people who don’t enjoy them, but in recent years I have grown to love them. I suspect they just take some getting used to. They work really well in this salad because they add some sweetness and depth to the wheat berries and arugula. They also add some fantastic color, especially when they bleed onto the feta, turning it bright pink.
This is great for a main course or starter and you can pack it for lunch during the week too. I keep the parts separated and then combine them and dress the salad before leaving for work. It all holds up until noon quite nicely. It is immensely satisfying and really quite beautiful to look at. It might be the perfect thing to be eat while we wait for farmer’s markets to start up.
It always feels a little silly to me to write a recipe for a salad. You know how to make a salad, so use this as inspiration. Feel free to experiment with proportions. Other grains, like farro, could be used in place of the wheat berries.
Roasted Beet Salad with Wheat Berries, Arugula and Feta
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I like this dressing very acidic, reduce this to 2 tablespoons if you like a more traditional proportion)
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
- arugula, preferably baby or wild arugula
- 2-3 medium beets, roasted, peeled and chopped***
- 2 cups cooked wheat berries***
- 1/2 pound feta (I prefer goat’s milk)
- Fresh oregano
Make vinaigrette: In a small bowl combine the shallot, vinegar, oregano, honey, salt and pepper. Let sit for 15 minutes. slowly add olive oil, whisking to combine.
Assemble salad: Place arugula leaves in a medium bowl and toss with a couple of tablespoons of vinaigrette. Divide dressed arugula among 4 plates. Top with 1/4 of wheat berries and 1/4 of the beets and 1/4 of the feta. Drizzle remaining dressing on top. Sprinkle with some additional oregano, salt and pepper. Serve.
*** To roast beets: Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash beets and wrap individually in aluminum foil. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a small knife easily glides into beet. Let cool a bit before peeling and chopping.
*** To cook wheat berries: Combine 1 1/2 cups wheat berries, 6 cups of water and 2 teaspoons salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, until tender. This will take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes. Add additional boiling water as needed to keep grain covered.