Monday, August 5, 2013

Lemon Basil Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Veggies and Tofu Croutons

I've been wanting to work with wheat berries for a while because of their unique texture, appearance, and yummy flavor. I was feeling particularly ambitious one afternoon and decided to create a dish utilizing these guys along with summer veggies and one of my favorite flavor combos, lemon and basil.

Apparently I had some spare time as well, since I decided to add yet another component to the recipe. About a month and a half earlier, I had lunch at Marty's Market and discovered a new way of serving tofu... Tofutons! Tofu croutons are essentially small pieces of tofu baked for a long time until they become crispy on the outside. They were great on salad and worked really well on the recipe I ended up creating.

If you have an afternoon of nothing to do, give this recipe a shot! Timing is important, as each item is either cooked in the oven or on the stove for different amounts of time. If you're planning on serving this warm, plan ahead. If you're going the cold route, which is equally tasty, you can cook in whatever order your heart desires. I'm not going to plan for you, but I will give instructions for each individual recipe.

NOTE: Everything prepared in the oven uses the same temperature- 400 degrees F. Preheat your oven to 400 at the start and don't change it until you're done!

Lemon Basil Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Veggies and Tofutons
By Caroline Mac

Wheat Berries

Some sources will tell you to soak dry wheat berries before cooking them, but I also read that they cook about the same whether soaked or not. Since I didn't have prep time the night before, I decided to do the no-soak version and hope for the best (they turned out just fine!)

1 c uncooked wheat berries
3 c water

Step 1: In a large pan, bring wheat berries and water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 30- 60 (or more) minutes. Start checking the wheat berries at 30 minutes, as cooking time varies. When done, they'll be chewy but not tough. My wheat berries took an absurdly long 75 minutes to cook... Maybe I should have soaked them...

Step 2: When wheat berries have cooked, drain them and set aside.

Roasted Eggplant

1 large eggplant
Olive oil
Italian seasoning

Step 1: Slice eggplant in half lengthwise. Score the eggplant flesh in a diamond pattern (intersecting diagonal lines) without completely cutting through the skin.

Step 2: Brush a light layer of olive oil all over eggplant halves and sprinkle flesh side with italian seasoning. Place eggplant face-down on a baking sheet. Roast for approximately 40 minutes at 400*, or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes.

Step 3: Once eggplant is cool enough to handle, separate the flesh from the skin. I gently sliced between the two and then scooped it out with a spoon.

Roasted Squash

1 large yellow squash
Olive oil
Italian Seasoning

Step 1: Slice squash lengthwise and then into thin slices (they'll look like half circles)

Step 2: Place squash in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake at 400* for 15-20 minutes, or until tender.

Roasted Garlic

1 head of garlic, intact
Olive oil
Aluminum foil

Step 1: Remove the outer layers of the head of garlic until you've reached the individual cloves. Slice off about 1/2 an inch from the top of head, or enough to expose the raw tips of the cloves.

Step 2: Coat garlic with a light layer of olive oil. Wrap in foil and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Using a small spoon, scoop roasted cloves from skin, leaving them as whole as possible.

Tofu Croutons

1-14 oz block firm tofu, rinsed and lightly pressed to remove excess liquid
Approx 1 T olive oil
Salt, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste

Step 1: Slice tofu in half to form two thinner rectangles. Slice those into 1/2 inch cubes. Spread cubes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings.

Step 2: Bake tofu at 400* for around 50 minutes, or until outside is golden and crispy. You want this tofu to be a little crispier than your typical baked tofu, since you're trying to create a crouton-like consistency.

Lemon Basil Dressing

Juice of 1 lemon
1 c fresh basil
2 t olive oil
Lemon pepper, to taste

In a blender, puree all ingredients until smooth.

You're almost done! 

Once each component is complete, combine everything in a large bowl and stir until evenly mixed and coated with dressing. Top with tofu croutons and serve warm or cold.

Whew! It took a while, but is totally worth it.



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