In the world of whole grains, wheat berries are a nutritional powerhouse. Sweet and nutty in flavor, this grain is packed with fiber, protein, and a healthy dose of B-vitamins. Paired with roasted grapes and salty olives, this dish is the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
Makes 7 cups (will serve 8 people easily, as a side)
- 1-1/2 pounds small seedless red grapes (about 5 cups)
- 8 tablespoons olive oil (1/2 cup total), divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 branches rosemary
- 1 pound shallots (about 6 good-sized bulbs), peeled and sliced
- 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 cups cooked wheat berries*
- 1 tablespoon fig balsamic vinegar or strawberry balsamic (if necessary, substitute any thick, syrupy balsamic vinegar)
- 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, slivered
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
Dump the grapes all onto one baking sheet and pat very dry. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Rub in the seasonings with your fingers. Transfer half of the seasoned, oiled grapes to the 2nd lined baking sheet. Nestle a rosemary sprig under the grapes on each sheet pan, getting it a bit oily, too. (Save the 3rd rosemary sprig for garnish.)
Transfer to the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring gently and reversing the sheet pans once or twice. Remove when the grapes have burst and the juices are syrupy. Let cool.
Meanwhile, while the grapes are in the oven, caramelize the shallots. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and the shallots. Sauté a few minutes, until they’re really sizzling. Drop the heat to medium-low and cook more gently, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and very soft, 20 to 25 minutes. You may cool them, or incorporate them into the salad while still warm.
In the bottom of a large serving bowl, whisk the final 2 tablespoons olive oil with the balsamic. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add 3-1/2 cups cooked wheat berries and toss to coat. Gently fold in the grapes with their juices, shallots, and olives. Taste, adding up to one cup more wheat berries if the flavors are too intense. Strip the final rosemary branch and let the needles float over the salad, for garnish.
* To cook wheat berries, sort and rinse 2 cups dry wheat berries. Cover with cold water by 3 inches, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, uncovered, about 1 hour. Drain and use. If you have some left over, transfer to freezer-safe zip-top bags and freeze.