Hang on

You might remember the fuss I made over our caterer in the months leading up to our wedding. I declared finding her almost as exciting as meeting my husband, not to mention almost as trying. And so in the same way that I decided when I met Alex not to let go, I also decided with Katy to hang on. And so these days, when my mom or I write each other about a new recipe we tried, or one we'd like to find, we email Katy, too. We're still talking about food, only now that we're done with silverware rentals and napkin colors, it's lot more fun.

What you see up there—that simple combination of steamed wheat berries, torn fresh basil, a little bit of spinach, shaved Parmesan, and a sprinkle of pine nuts—is one of the recipes Katy sent along. She made it for Easter, tossed with olive oil and balsamic and sprinkled with salt, and she told us about it afterward, in the emails we were sending back and forth about Meyer lemon tarts and hot cross buns. I finally got my hands on a bag of fresh basil at the winter farmers' market last week in Marstons Mills, and this afternoon, it was the first thing I made. (For the record, Alex and I took our first ocean swim at LeCount's yesterday, so although we are still shopping the winter market, I think we can officially welcome the arrival of spring. If the basil doesn't prove it, I don't know what does. Hip-hip, hooray!)

At any rate, the salad was perfect: tangy balsamic with fresh basil, toasted pine nuts and crumbling Parm, and an excellent way to go through a fair amount of wheat berries from our grain CSA. If you aren't too busy watching out for thunderstorms or planning a wedding or waiting on your own basil to get big, I highly recommend you head into the kitchen and give it a try.

Thanks, Katy, for everything.


Katy warns against making too much of this at a time; make what you can eat, she says, but not much more. Wheat berries don't store well—they tend to get sort of smelly after a couple of days—and the greens will sort of ooze into the dressing overnight. Which is really to say, dig in, and hurry up, before someone else gets the last bite. The first time I made this I added a bit of spinach in addition to the basil, but I think I like it best with the tastes strong and plain. Feel free to experiment a little bit though; I plan to try it with cherry tomatoes once they come into season, and I think kalamata olives would be a nice addition any day.

2 cups cooked wheat berries
2 tablespoons balsamic glaze
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound fresh basil, torn into bite-size pieces
2/3 cup toasted pine nuts
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
2 ounces Parmesan, shaved

In a large mixing bowl, toss together the wheat berries, balsamic, and olive oil. Add the torn basil and pine nuts, and toss gently to mix. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste, and as you serve each bowl, shave the Parmesan over top.


Anonymous said...

Elspeth, this looks wonderful - tasty and easy, and I love just about anything w/ wheat berries! All I need is fresh basil, which is several weeks away here in my Maine garden. Katy is an AMAZING cook, so I know this will be good! ~xo, Mama

Beth said...

Hoorah for your first ocean swim! You have us beat by weeks, I think, but hot afternoons in the garden will do wild things to the local body - I might have to test the colder waters if this next weather system doesn't take all this early heat away. And, oh yes, that recipe will have me pinching basil leaves way too soon! Thank you for all the new temptations!


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