Saturday, June 12, 2010

To Borrow a Phrase: Greek Hippie Salad

I consider the humble wheat berry. It is wholesome, toothsome, versatile, and completely underused in my kitchen due to it's incredibly long cooking nature. I never remember in advance that it should soak for 8 hours prior to it's 1 hour stove-top simmer, and frankly, since I don't know what I'm going to eat from day to day, planning for such ingredient usage is usually out the window unless a dinner party is involved. I do usually have a quart jar stashed under my cupboard, just in case inspiration and planning strike me.

In the past week, I have taken note of 3 separate salads: one with wheat berries, one with crunchy radish and lettuce leaves, and the last one a genre of salads given a great name - Hippie Salads. Starting in reverse order, Marisa at Food in Jars noted somewhere (and I don't remember which post) that her husband isn't always so fond of her hippie salads, salads that are comprised of whole grain and leftover and miscellaneous healthy things. I'd have to say, that my Husband is even pickier than hers, so the concept of Hippie Salad at my house is usually tailored just to suit me for lunches, light dinners, and snacks. I rather like this arrangement, since I determined a while back to no longer make enough salad to feed Guam, and successfully scaled down to accommodate only myself.

As for the crunchy radish and lettuce leaves? Just look here at the beauty that is Veggie Le Crunch! Sprouted Kitchen is really a beautiful, photo driven food blog, but she has some killer recipes as well. I actually fully intended to make a generally the same version of this salad (since I truly am incapable of following proportion and direction), but veered from my course when I stopped by the Outpost today. They had beautiful red and green romaine lettuces on sale, and I for some reason I just had to have a Greek style salad right then and there. I got a cucumber (knowing the leftovers will be tossed in some homemade sour cream that I just made and need to use), and some imported French sheep's milk feta. The bones were laid.

Mid week, Boy-O and I visited R1's place, and I was perusing a magazine and saw the picture for this salad on an olive oil advertisement. I perceived the edamame to be bright green peas, and thought immediately of a pea type version of a wheat berry salad that would be worthy of the new innBrooklyn Virtual Veg of the Month Club. This month's selection is peas and/or pea shoots, and while I haven't scored any fresh from the Wisconsin earth peas yet, the hippie salad I concocted used a healthy amount of the frozen variety.

A couple of thinly sliced and quartered radishes that I had to buy earlier in the week after drooling over Sprouted Kitchen's Veggie Le Crunch.

When I have inspiration, it's easy to concoct, but I still had the pesky problem of the soaking and cooking of the wheat berries. I didn't remember last night that I wanted to cook some today, but I did know that I did around noon. I figured since I love my pressure cooker for pinto beans (and had used it yesterday and still had beans leftover), I would use it for the wheat berries. Thanks to this site, I found charts for pressure cooking everything! I soaked a half cup of rock hard berries in 3 times their water, and went to a birthday party across the street. When we got home around 4, I put them in the pressure pot with plenty of water to cover them by at least 2 inches, and cooked them on medium for 30 minutes. I quick-released the pressure by running the pot under cool water, and was rewarded by perfect, fat berries ready for a Greek Hippie Salad!

As with all hippie salads, you can omit, add or augment however you see fit. My half cup of raw wheat berries yielded a bit more than a cup of cooked berries. All told, my salad was a bit over 2 1/2 cups. Instantly veganize your salad by omitting the feta.

Greek Hippie Wheatberry Salad (inspired by the sources above)
  • 1/2 raw wheat berries, cooked using whatever method you prefer
  • 2/3 c. frozen peas, cooked in boiling water until done - 3 to 4 minutes
  • 1/2 cooked beans, I used pinto
  • 1/3 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2-3 radishes, thinly sliced and quartered
  • 1 1/2 oz feta cheese, imported sheep's milk is strongest
  • 2-3 T. chopped red onion
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (about 1 1/2 T.)
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2-1 clove garlic, minced or grated on a microplane
  • 1/4 t. oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • romaine lettuce leaves for serving
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano and a little salt and pepper. Whisk to emulsify into a dressing. In a larger bowl, combine all other ingredients and toss gently with dressing. That's it! Serve it on the lettuce and add a little more black pepper if you like.

I tasted it and loved it, of course, since I made it to suit exactly what I had a taste for. I didn't originally add red onion, because I didn't think I had one - but luckily I found one that was in desperate need of using, so I added it after the photos. It was the the missing link. I then thought I could have gone and added red and green pepper, and even some other colorful and hotter peppers, but I'll save that for next time.

The missing component.

Hippie salad, or not, my Husband thought he'd even try a bite, though he hasn't yet. I ate mine rolled up in a lettuce leaf like a taco, and then had to have another big scoop on the side. I'd bet the avocado dressing that Sprouted Kitchen made would be good as a wheat berry salad dressing... but then I'd bet that each and every reader could add or subtract one thing that would improve upon the Greek foundation that I was craving this chilly June day.

How many salads have you seen that just call your name and have to be made? I know I'm not alone, when it is a numberless amount for me. They are probably one of my favorite things to make and eat, which is a lucky predicament to be in indeed. I find, that any kind of salad of this nature, stuffed into a tortilla (homemade of beans or corn masa), garnished with cheese and hot sauce is pretty much foolproof.

Not sure how this Greek version would fare in my my old standby, but I have a feeling I'll be making some flat breads after church tomorrow...


  1. Wow...I would take this hippie greek salad over a regular greek salad any day! Fantastic!

  2. I'll never forget my first experience with wheat berries -- for a Renaissance festival we hosted in college. We did a traditional medieval meal... and I was in charge of the wheat berry gruel :) People were amazed at how tasty it actually turned out -- though I believe the term "hippie food" did actually come up somewhere along the line!

    Love the Greek twist on this dish... you're making me crave a big old Greek salad!

  3. Hippie Greek, huh? I like it. GREG


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