Wheat berry (or farro) salad with radicchio, root vegetables and pomegranate is a long name and a mouthful. The recipe comes from David Lebovitz's My Paris Kitchen. The good part is that you can take one bite in the salad and taste every ingredient in it: the chewy wheat berries, the mild bitterness of radicchio, the crunchy carrots, crunchier parsnips, the sweet butternut squash and the surprising pop of pomegranate seeds – all the flavors in one scoop. You'd also notice the tangy fresh lemon flavor of the dressing. To me, it was a delicious and well balanced bite. It has such a diverse and complex flavor, you want to eat more of it. I had more than two bowls of this salad for dinner the night before. In fact, it was a filling and hearty salad; it was the only thing I ate. There were no leftovers.
The prep work took quite some time to complete, more than I've expected. So it pays to plan ahead.
- First the wheat berries have to be cooked. I used farro, not the pearled variety. It took a good 45 minutes until they softened and splayed. I have a good supply of spelt, kamut and rye berries on hand (I use them to bake breads); I couldn't wait to make a similar salad with them. Cooking the grains can be done ahead of time.
- I used two carrots, one parsnip and more than half of a small butternut squash for the salad. Peeled and cut the root vegetables into 3/4-inch cubes, which filled up an entire half-size sheet pan. Tossed them with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then they were ready to be roasted in a 375°F oven for 30 minutes. Torn radicchio was added to the root vegetables at the end of the roasting cycle, for three to five minutes until it wilted. None of these steps could be rushed.
- I got some pomegranates in the fridge. I proceeded to seed them. Start by rolling the fruit on the counter to loosen its interior. Cut it in halves, horizontally. The best way I've found is to beat the pomegranate half, held cut side down against your palm, over a bowl with the back of a sturdy wooden spoon. Gently knock on the pomegranate skin. Continue beating until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. This method is effective as compared to that of seeding a pomegranate in a bowl of water. Since I like fresh pomegranate seeds in my salads and yogurt, I buy whole pomegranates when they are in season. Seed them and freeze the seeds. They freeze well.
- The dressing is a simple one to make. Combine Dijon mustard, a dash of kosher salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice, a spoonful of pomegranate molasses and some olive oil. Toss everything together, farro, root vegetables, pomegranate seeds, chopped fresh parsley and all, with the dressing in a big salad bowl. I added a few drops of lemon juice to liven the salad, as David suggested.
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