Finally, happily, I’d like to tell you about something pregnant women can and should eat with no worries. In fact, everyone who is trying to work more whole grains into their diet should try this recipe for wheatberry salad with dried cranberries and fresh herbs, one of the few really craveable whole grain preparations I have discovered. The Dean and DeLuca Cookbook calls it a side dish, but it also makes an excellent snack for your morning or afternoon slump. Pregnant women in particular are advised to eat many small meals and snacks throughout the day; this kind of grazing is said to help prevent queasiness during the first trimester and simply to be necessary during the hungry third trimester. Expecting or not, you’ll find that having a bowl of this salad in the refrigerator makes it possible for you to skip a trip to the deli for chips (my weakness) and snack without guilt even as you fill those seemingly impossibly high whole grain requirements.
Wheatberry is the fun name for whole grain wheat; I’m sure you can buy whole grain wheat in bulk at health food stores, but you can also buy the Arrowhead Mills packaged version at your supermarket. Some people say you have to soak them overnight before cooking, and some people say you don’t; in conflicts between soakers and non-soakers, I always go with the non-soakers.
I fiddled with this recipe quite a lot. First of all, I cut it in half, which means you can easily double it. You could also boil up a pound of wheatberries and freeze half of them in their cooking liquid for later use. The recipe calls for a mix of fresh herbs, recommending tarragon, chervil, rosemary, and chives, but since I did not want to spend $10 on herbs, I just used parsley. I’m sure it is lovely with the others, if you have access to reasonably priced herbs. It also calls for raspberry vinegar, another big-ticket item I didn’t want to spring for; I used a combination of red wine and white wine vinegar and thought it tasted very good, but in the finished dish I could see how raspberry would have been even better. Now that I know I like this salad, I’ll invest in a bottle. Finally, I used the recommended amount of salt (cut in half for the half recipe) and was horrified by how salty the salad was on the first day. On the second day, though, it had mellowed and tasted perfect to me.
About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.
- 1/2 pound dried wheatberries
- 1 1/2 quarts water
- 2-4 ounces dried cranberries, according to taste (I like a lot of cranberries)
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 1/4 cup packed, minced fresh herbs or parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons raspberry or wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the wheatberries in 1.5 quarts salted water, for 60 minutes or until they are soft but still chewy. Drain them in a strainer.
Add the drained, slightly cooled wheatberries to a large mixing bowl with the cranberries, red onion, and herbs or parsley. Dissolve the salt in the vinegar and pour it all over the wheatberries along with the oil. Let it sit, covered, for at least 30 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. This salad is best served at room temperature.