Over this busy summer weekend, everyone was delighted to have a big batch of my Cherry Wheat Berry Super Salad on hand for a picnic lunch down at the lake and leftovers to pair next day with our grilled steaks. Cherry season makes me want to do a happy dance and this year was no exception, especially because I scored both Bing and Rainer cherries on sale for a pittance!
In addition to sweet cherries, this satisfying, savory-sweet salad features iron-rich spinach, satiating nuts and seeds, and whole-grain wheat berries. Not to mention feta and balsamic vinaigrette for even more flavor. The ingredients all marry beautifully together – you won’t be cherry-picking the fruit out, you’ll be licking the bowl clean! I originally created this summery recipe for Litehouse Foods as a way to show off their delicious artisanal cheeses and dressings. Not only was Cherry Wheat Berry Super Salad a hit among my cheese mongering friends, my family also gave it the “red-stained” thumbs up (they were too busy eating to say YUM).
That’s right, all our fingers were temporarily stained from slicing and pitting the cherries by hand! Even though it only took about 10 minutes to prep the 3 cups of cherries needed for this cherry recipe with a paring knife, I must remember to put an official cherry pitter on my wish list!
There is no other fruit in this recipe, despite the confusing name wheat “berries.” Wheat berries are actually the entire, edible part of the wheat grain before it gets processed into bran, germ and endosperm – I think I have that right. Anyhow, wheat berries are as “whole grain” as it comes when you’re talking about wheat. Wheat berries are incredibly healthy and packed with loads of nutrition including a good amount of dietary fiber, potassium and iron. Not to mention, healthy, complex carbohydrates to fuel your body and brain. The only caveat is that wheat berries are not gluten-free (obviously), if this is of concern to you – however, having gluten doesn’t make wheat berries unhealthy, quite the contraire.
Cherries are a super food and pack a wallop of vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients in each tiny fruit – your body will be feeling anything but in the “pits.” What else is going on in this salad? Slivered blanched almonds and pepita seeds add crunch along with healthy fats, vitamins and even more fiber. And, we all know how beneficial spinach greens are! Feta cheese crumbles add a salty edge to the savory-sweet experience, but feel free to leave off or swap according to your cheese preferences.
This summer salad is perfect as a light lunch or side dish to a grilled lean protein. It can be made ahead (perfect for meal prepping), can be kept chilled overnight (great for make ahead and leftovers) and also layers up well in a jar (ahhh, an eat-at-your-desk meal solution).
Have you been enjoying cherries this season? Ever seen cherries on a real cherry tree (I haven’t)? Every tried wheat berries? Have any exciting summer plans for the remainder of the season? Oh, and I’m linking up with The Fit Foodie Mama today, check her out! Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer