Monday, 21 October 2013

Wheat berry salad (Σαλάτα με στάρι)

My son has recently become a mature eater: he is now willing to try anything, and even though he won't eat everything, he will still attempt to finish his plate, just to show that he has tried something, even if it's not ti his liking. I notice that he likes to eat something new on its own, perhaps to get a full feel of a new taste. Only after that is he willing to eat it in combination with other food items.
I think he likes beany dishes, especially when the beans are served in a very transparent way (ie plain). He is fond of kernel-sized food, so he is happy with peas, corn, lentils, kidney beans... basically anything small and round. This includes wheat berries, the main ingredient in koliva, a memorial dish for the dead, served after a religious service. But the truth is that wheat berries are an unusual ingredient in Greek cuisine - they are hardly ever anywhere used except in koliva; they remind Greeks too much of death.

The chef at MAICh uses wheat berries a lot in his salads, in combinatin with corn, peas, carrots, lentils and an array of beans. When my son has lunch with me at work, he always goes for these dishes. I decided to make one of these salads myself. Wheat berries need a bit of preparation - it's best if you boil them overnight, dry them on a flat surface, and then use them the next day in the salad. When storing cooked wheat berries, always keep them in the fridge.

For 1 salad that serves up as a main meal, or a salad for 2 served with another main meal, you need:
100g wheat berries, already boiled and dried on a cloth on a flat surface, stored in the fridge.
50g corn niblets (I used canned)
25g baby carrots (I bought some canned ones for the first time - they were on sale)
25g red kidney beans (I used canned - this is generally the only way red kidney beans are sold in Greece)
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
1/4 green fresh bell pepper, cut into strips
2 cups of freshly shredded cabbage
a pinch of salt
a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
some beetroot, for garnish

Salt the cabbage, and mix in the olive oil. Place it on a wide oval plate. Mix the wheat berries, corn, carrots and kidney beans and place them on top of the cabbage. Sprinkle the strips of  pepper and chopped parsley over them. garnish the plate wiht some beetroot. I added some onion slices to this salad as an afterthought, but I don't think it really needed it when served with a piquant meal.

We had this delicious salad yesterday with pork chops and some baked orzo pasta rice among which I had roasted a lamb's head. There was something for everyone in this colourful meal, and I'm glad to say that only a small serving of orzo has remained - the rest was razed.

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