I’ve had enough of potatoes after eating so many of them over Passover. Don’t get me wrong, I love potatoes, but I can’t live off them for an entire week. For Jon, on the other hand, it’s a whole different story. His love affair with potatoes is pretty much as strong as my love for desserts and anything sweet. There’s only so many side dishes one can cook with potatoes and I’ve pretty much exhausted them all during the holidays — from egg and potato salad and spanish potato tortilla to homemade french fries and potato gratin. Saying goodbye to potatoes for a while is most probably going to be tough for Jon, but I’m planning on catching up with lots of other filling side dishes to accompany my dinners. I couldn’t be happier to integrate so many fantastic ingredients into our meals again, such as bulgur, quinoa, rice, and of course, wheat berry.
Wheat berry had worked its way into the pages of Savormania pretty earlier on — just 2 months after the launch of the blog with this wheat berry caprese salad — however I had never cooked with this ingredient before I embarked on this incredible food blogging adventure. It’s amazing how my tastes have evolved thanks to Savormania and you, my dear readers, who challenge me to create recipes with ingredients I’ve never cooked with before.
I love wheat berry’s versatility and sweet nutty flavor; you can serve it hot or cold, as a side dish, in a salad, or even blended in a soup. Plus, it’s a power food full of fiber, protein and loads of vitamin B, making it a healthy addition to any lunch or dinner. Wheat berries usually take a long time to cook (about 50 to 60 minutes), but in Switzerland we’re lucky to have a brand called Ebly, which produces pre-cooked wheat berry that only takes a mere 10 minutes to cook. If you can’t find boxes of the pre-cooked version, you can always cook a batch of this whole grain over the weekend and store it in the fridge to use throughout the week.
After creating a salad with wheat berry, I wanted to prepare a side dish highlighting the powerful flavor of this grain while combining it with one of my favorite vegetables: mushrooms. I absolutely adore mushroom risotto, so I thought about mixing mushrooms and wheat berry to create a healthier, non-creamy version of the latter. I sought inspiration in a recipe I found on the Food Network for a mushroom wheat berry pilaf, using it as a basis to guide me.
The idea of a wheat berry pilaf sounded appealing — sweating shallots in oil, sautéing mushrooms in butter and adding both to the wheat berries, coating them all in a soy sauce, red wine, lemon zest and herb dressing. The Food Network also suggests adding leftover rice, which I decided to ignore — naughty me! — but the result was just as I expected — chewy, soft, and incredibly strong in flavor, reinforcing once again my growing admiration for wheat berry.
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups pre-cooked wheat berry*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 cups chopped white button mushrooms, stems removed
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 6 tablespoons water
- 6 tablespoons red wine
- 1 tablespoon vegetable broth powder
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Bring water to boil in a large saucepan with a pinch of salt. When boiling, add the pre-cooked wheat berry and simmer for 10 minutes until softened. Drain in a sieve and rinse out the saucepan.
- Heat olive oil in the saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and sweat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted.
- Add the mushrooms and the soy sauce, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add the water, red wine and vegetable broth powder and sauté until liquid has evaporated, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, dried rosemary and dried thyme. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper according to your taste. Serve warm.
*PRE-COOKED WHEAT BERRY: In Switzerland we have a brand called Ebly that produces pre-cooked wheat berry, requiring only 10 minutes of cooking time. If you don't have something similar in your country, cook the wheat berry for 50 to 60 minutes until chewy yet tender.
How did your mushroom wheat berry sauté come out? Share photos of your recipe on Instagram by tagging #savormania