Some recipes call to soak wheat berries before cooking them, but I've never found it to cut that much time off the total needed to soften the hard grains. I was glad to see this one left that step off. The wheat generally takes about an hour to an hour and a half to soften... I check at the sixty minute mark and they are usually close to being done, depending on if they are cooked at a light simmer or closer to a boil.
While the tender, chewy wheat berries were cooling, I had plenty of time to knock out the preparation for the rest of the ingredients. We chopped up two types of apples for this salad - Gala for their sweet, light flavor and Granny Smith for a tart, juicy bite. A thinly sliced rib of celery, dried sour cherries and plump golden raisins round out this fruity salad, adding flavor and their contrasting textures. For a nutty note, a handful of chopped walnuts that we toasted are also tossed into the mix.
To keep the salad light and refreshing, we prepared a zippy dressing made of freshly squeezed juice from a sweet orange, zest from said orange and a few glugs of seasoned rice vinegar. Do note, seasoned rice vinegar is different that regular rice vinegar - the seasoned has salt and sugar added. A couple green onions lend a savory aspect, while a bit of chopped mint brought a breath of fresh (literally!) air into the salad. With all of these sweet flavors, it may seem a little odd to season at the end with salt and fresh ground black pepper, but don't skip this part as it ties the rambunctious tones together. I quite enjoyed the dried sour cherries in this dish, but I can see how you could replace them with dried cranberries if you couldn't find them (I finally located a bag at Trader Joe's). While I can appreciate the lighter nature of the dressing, we both commented that we thought a splash of a good, fruity olive oil would have been a nice accent. You certainly don't have to serve this salad with those tender Boston lettuce leaves, but it does make for a more dramatic presentation. Jeff decided to make good use of them, ala a tortilla, and making a wrap out of the salad and lettuce!
Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad