ROASTED ASPARAGUS WHEAT BERRY SALAD WITH ARUGULA PESTO

INGREDIENTS:

Wheat Berries:

  • 1 cup hard red wheat berries, rinsed
  • 3 and 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • extra virgin olive oil

Roasted Asparagus:

  • 1 bunch of fresh (thick) asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Arugula  Pesto:

  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 ounces baby arugula
  • 1 and 1/2 ounces fresh basil (set aside 1-2 leaves for garnishing)
  • 1/4 cup raw or toasted walnuts, plus more for garnishing
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Garnishes:
  • fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • roughly chopped raw or toasted walnuts
  • freshly grated lemon zest
  • shaved aged Manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius) with a rack in the center position.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the rinsed wheat berries, cold water, and kosher salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 50 minutes to 60 minutes, or until the wheat berries are tender and cooked through – the exact cooking time will vary by brand and age, similar to dried lentils. Drain the wheat berries in a fine-meshed sieve and spread into a thin layer onto a clean sheet pan (alternatively, you can place them in a large mixing bowl – the goal is to cool them down quickly). Drizzle and toss with a small amount of olive oil. Cool completely at room temperature, or place them in refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to speed this process up.
  3. As the wheat berries are cooking, place the trimmed asparagus spears on a second sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper, toss, and distribute into an even layer on the sheet pan, setting them apart slightly. Roast at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 12 to 16 minutes, or until lightly caramelized and tender. Remove and allow to cool on a rack while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  4. Prepare the arugula pesto. In a large processor, pulse the garlic cloves until finely minced. Add the arugula and basil leaves and pulse until coarsely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the raw walnuts and slowly pour in the olive oil, processing until mostly smooth. Transfer to container, stir in the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Once the wheat berries have cooled, place in a large mixing or serving bowl and generously toss with the arugula pistachio pesto (*you will most likely have some leftover pesto). Season the salad to taste with salt and pepper. Cut the asparagus spears on a bias into 1-inch pieces, add to the wheat berries, and toss gently.
  6. Serve at room temperature or cold. Garnish the salad with chiffonade basil, coarsely chopped walnuts, freshly grated lemon zest, and shaved Manchego cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano, if using) as desired.
  7. Leftover salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  8. If you don’t have time for the pesto, use a good olive oil and extra garlic and cheese
  9. PS the original recipe called for pistachios but I prefer walnuts (or pine nuts on a special occasion – they’re pretty pricey), so you can substitute whatever you prefer.
 
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