The other day, I realized that I’ve posted a whole lot more salads than most other blogs. Hearty salads with grains or beans (or both, as is the case here) are terrific side dishes for family meals and easy potluck offerings. I’m also convinced that they are the ultimate single girl food. I can make a big bowl of salad and keep it in the fridge for ready-made meals or just stick a fork in it for a snack. Living alone, I can eat straight outta the bowl without an eyebrow raised. The single life is good, my friends, and the perks are many.
That trip to New York reminded me how much I love my quiet life with Cookie. Every moment of that trip was spent with others, others whose presence I enjoy very much, but I need ample alone time to feel like myself. Cookie understands this; she lounges around on the couch and comes by to say hi if I’ve spent too much time staring at this screen. Every day, our conversation goes something like this, “Cookie, have I told you how pretty you look today?” She wags her tail.
My travel companion kept commanding me to “pep up!” but the truth is, I’m not peppy all the time. I don’t like talking for the sake of talking. I might use exclamation points liberally in writing but I’m not bubbly in real life. My head is usually lost in the clouds and I get irritated when someone tries to bring me back down to earth. This introversion is an undeniable part of me but maybe, someday, I’ll find someone who understands and lets me float around in thought and never runs out of interesting ideas to share. Here’s to hoping he’ll like salads, too, because I’m not going to stop making them.
Thankfully, you all seem to enjoy salads almost as much as I do (I know Sarah does, at least!). I loosely adapted this one from two of my favorite recipe sources, Melissa Clark (Cook This Now) and America’s Test Kitchen (Healthy Family Cookbook). I knew it was going to be good, but the end result was leaps and bounds beyond my already high expectations.
If I had to pick one salad to eat for the rest of my life, it might be this one. A bold statement, I know, but it’s a statement befitting this unapologetically bold salad. It’s overflowing with spicy arugula, salty feta cheese, sweet and crunchy carrot ribbons, chewy wheat berries and earthy chickpeas, tossed in a bright, lemony olive oil vinaigrette.
- 1 cup dried wheat berries (I used hard white wheat berries, red would also do)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 4 carrots, sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 4 to 6 cups arugula (if it's not baby arugula, you might want to give it a few chops to break it into smaller pieces)
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 small lemon, juiced
- ½ teaspoon ground sea salt or kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cook the wheat berries: Since wheat berries take around an hour to cook, I like to make extra and freeze it for later. To cook the wheat berries, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Stir in the wheat berries and ½ teaspoon salt. Partially cover the pot with a lid and cook, stirring often, until the berries are tender but still a little chewy (about an hour). Drain the wheat berries and let them cool to room temperature (you can speed up the cooling process by pouring them onto a rimmed baking sheet or pouring them into a large bowl, stirring occasionally).
- In the meantime, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Transfer the cooled wheat berries to a big bowl. Add the chickpeas, carrots, feta cheese and arugula and toss to combine. Drizzle in the dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
- Recipe originally appeared on my Fresh Vegetarian column at Chesapeake Taste.
- If you will not be serving this salad immediately or if you suspect you will have leftovers, I would keep the arugula separate from the rest of the salad until it's ready to be served. The dressing tends to wilt the arugula fairly quickly.
P.s. If you want a little peek into my rarely photographed, humble little kitchen, it’s on Houzz this week!