Wheat Berry Salad With Radishes, Feta & Avocado

April  5, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by Melina Hammer
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 3 to 4
Author Notes

Wheat berries are chock-full of protein, fiber, and nutrients—and, hooray, they’re also delicious. Typically milled into flour, these hearty kernels can and should be cooked whole. With the bran, germ, and endosperm along for the ride, their nutty flavor and chewy, tender texture is a versatile foundation to build on. All you have to do is decide what colorful elements to pile on, then feast on easy, nourishing fare. Cook times vary depending on which variety of wheat berries you find: Soft wheat berries cook in about 30 minutes, whereas the hard variety will take closer to 90. Don’t worry—this is largely passive cooking, and can be done a few days in advance. In this preparation, I include my favorite fats: crunchy hazelnuts and buttery avocado, plus briny, tender feta. I love French feta for its salty-creamy lushness, but use whatever variety you adore or can readily find. A mix of radishes dazzles the eyes and adds crunchy oomph. Watermelon radishes are sweet, spicy, and just so colorful. Purple daikon is lovely, too, and great for anyone who prefers a sweeter bite. If you can only source conventional radishes, the dish will still be delicious—just slice some a little more thinly than others for varied textures. And if you’re tempted to make this but can’t score wheat berries, this recipe is adaptable to pretty much any other grain you can think of: couscous, farro, quinoa, barley, even rice. —Melina Hammer

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 3/4 cup (107 grams) whole hazelnuts
  • 2 cups vegetable stock, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • White vinegar, for pickling
  • 8 ounces radishes, preferably a mix of varieties, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup chopped curly parsley
  • 4 strips lemon peel (remove any white pith), very thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt, plus more to garnish
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 2 sprigs mint, leaves pulled from stems
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Spread out the wheat berries on one rimmed sheet pan and the hazelnuts on another. Toast the wheat berries for about 10 minutes, until golden. The hazelnuts might need longer—keep toasting until they’re deeply golden, 5 to 10 more minutes, lowering the oven temperature if needed.
  2. Transfer the wheat berries to a saucepan, add the stock (if it doesn’t cover the wheat berries, add a little more), and bring to a boil. Cover the pan with its lid and lower to a simmer. Cook the wheat berries for 45 to 90 minutes, until chewy-tender, adding more stock or water along the way if the pan ever gets dry. Season with the salt if needed, return the lid, and remove from heat.
  3. While the wheat berries cook, halve, peel, and thinly slice the onion, preferably on a mandoline. Pack the slices into a small jar, nestle in the bay leaf, and press down. Top with enough vinegar to cover and replace the lid. (This step can be done up to 1 week in advance—store in the fridge.)
  4. Place the toasted hazelnuts into a wide sealable container, close, and vigorously shake for 5 to 10 seconds. Sort the nuts from their papery skins, then gently crush or roughly chop half of them.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the radishes, parsley, lemon peel and juice, vinegar, 2 tablespoons of oil, pepper, and flaky salt. Toss to combine.
  6. Strain any unabsorbed stock from the wheat berries, then transfer them to a serving bowl or platter and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the radish mixture and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  7. Scatter about half of the hazelnuts on top, reserving the rest for people to add tableside. Crumble the feta into a few hearty wedges and arrange in on top, then nestle a generous pile of pickled red onions alongside. Halve the avocado and remove the pit. Cut it into slices, then scoop slices from the skin. Add next to the feta and onions and sprinkle with flaky salt. Drizzle oil and grind pepper over everything, then finish with the mint.

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Melina is the author of 'A Year at Catbird Cottage' with Ten Speed Press. She grows an heirloom and pollinator garden and forages wild foods at her namesake Hudson Valley getaway, Catbird Cottage. Melina loves serving curated menus for guests from near and far seeking community amidst the hummingbirds, grosbeaks, finches, and the robust flavors of the seasons.

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