After my Holistic Nutrition certification was over, I began traveling a bit to see all the friends and family I had put on the back burner over the past year. Right after my test (I mean, right after! As in 2 hours!) I took a trip to Cabo with two of my dearest friends from back home in Alabama. It was one of their 30th birthdays, so not only was this a celebration of her hitting the big 3-0, but also a perfect excuse to relax after my crazy test. Next, I headed to Chicago to meet up with my dad, step-mom, brother and his girlfriend. I couldn’t believe it, but I hadn’t seen them in over a year! We definitely made up for lost time and went to Lollapalooza, a White Sox game, the Field Museum and ate tons of delicious food. With traveling, comes eating out…for every meal! While its fun at the time, my stomach and heart start to miss home cooking. So needless to say, when I returned home last week, the first thing I did was start cooking up various dishes to fill my fridge for the week: a lentil and swiss chard mulligatawny soup, roasted beets, root vegetable mash and my favorite Mediterranean salad. I make this particular salad often and once I make it, I can’t stop eating it – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks…it seriously hits the spot every time and doesn’t last long. I say this as I’m nibbling away….
I firmly believe that you don’t need much to make the plethora of summer produce stand out: a little good quality oil, lemon, fresh herbs, nuts or seeds and it’s done. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated, especially when its fresh. My husband is obsessed with his garden. I’m not complaining, just saying! He came in the other day with handfuls of cherry tomatoes and parsley. Since I prefer to enjoy fresh garden veg raw, I knew just what to do with it!
This wheat berry salad has been adapted over the years, but I just started adding this za’atar-spiced tahini dressing. Substituting quinoa for the wheat berries is a great gluten-free option and adding green onions and hearts of palm is also a great touch. If you don’t have time to make the full dressing, using a bit of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and za’atar spice should do the trick.
The processing of wheat has changed drastically in the past few hundred years. These changes have caused a large number of people to develop allergies to wheat, known as celiac disease. Some people who are sensitive to wheat can tolerate the ancient varieties such as faro, spelt and Kamut. Whole grain wheat, like wheat berries, is high in protein, fiber, B-vitamins, vitamin E, iron, folate, magnesium and manganese. The germ in wheat is actually one of the highest sources of vitamin E, an antioxidant that is very beneficial for the immune system and cardiovascular system.
I can’t believe I just recently discovered Za’atar spice, but now that I have, its going to be at the front of the spice cabinet. It’s such a great all-around spice and can be used so many ways. Whats your favourite way to use Za’atar?!
- 1/2 cup hard wheat berries
- 1, 14-oz can of chickpeas
- 2, 6-oz jars of marinated artichokes, liquid drained and reserved
- 8-oz cherry tomatoes, halfed
- 2 small heirloom tomatoes, cut into chunks
- 100-120 grams feta cheese
- 1/3 cup mint, chopped
- 1/3 cup parsley, chopped (I used flat leaf, but curly works as well)
- 3 Tablespoons tahini
- 3 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 1/2 Tablespoons pure water
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tablespoon of Za'atar spice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- pinch of cayenne
- 3 Tablespoons flax oil
- Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil and cook wheat berries for 50-60 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- While the wheat berries are cooking, blend tahini, lemon juice, water, garlic, Za'atar, salt and cayenne in a food processor or blender. Once blended, keep blender running and add flax oil gradually. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Toss together the wheat berries, chickpeas, artichokes, tomatoes, feta cheese, mint and parsley. Drizzle with the Za'atar tahini dressing and a bit of the reserved artichoke liquid. Sprinkle a bit more Za'atar spice straight onto the salad if you like.