Friday, August 6, 2010

the land of the living

The bar exam is over, and the past week has marked my return to the land of the living. I swept my floors. I did my laundry. I finally made it to the bank and the post office.

And I've been eating proper meals again.

During law school, I ate well during finals, because the stress tended to leave me with the urge to cook elaborate meals. Not so in the week before the bar exam.

I ate strangely and erratically, with an appetite that swung between absent and insatiable. In the space of that one-week period, I had almond butter and jam on white sandwich bread at every single meal for three days straight. I ate lunches of cheddar, pickled plums and honey wheat pretzels dipped in mustard. I have a distinct memory of one dinner that consisted of a pint of blueberries mixed with storebought tapioca pudding, topped with whipped cream from a can. Considering the way I ate, it's wonder I didn't have a terrible stomachache by the time the exam rolled around.

Thankfully, that particular hazing ritual is finally done with, and it's time to give my poor abused digestive system a break. I'm ready to put away the white flour and sugar, and bring out the whole grains and fruit.

A nice, healthy wheatberry salad seems like a good start. Despite the name, a wheatberry isn't anything like a blueberry or raspberry. You can imagine, however, that a salad of "hulled whole wheat kernels" is probably a harder sell, even if you tout its benefits as a high source of dietary fiber. It's probably better to focus on how they taste.

Wheatberries have a pleasantly nutty flavor, a little like brown rice, and a satisfyingly toothsome texture. Lightly seasoned, dressed with olive oil and vinegar, and combined with green onions, dried cranberries, and little creamy fresh goat's cheese, they make for a filling, satisfying salad.

A good welcome back to the land of the living, I think.

Wheatberry Salad with Dried Cranberries, Green Onions, and Goat's Cheese

This salad makes for a light lunch on its own, but it's also a good accompaniment for fish, and I suspect it might pair well with grilled chicken, too.

(Serves one, with leftovers. Finished salad will keep in the fridge for two days; salad without the goat's cheese will keep for four.)

First up, your wheatberries need to be soaked overnight. Put four ounces (about half a cup) of wheatberries in a mixing bowl, cover with plenty of water, and forget about them until the next morning.

Drain off the soaking water and rinse the wheatberries. They can be cooked either on the stove or in the microwave. For stove cooking, put them in a pot with two whole cloves, cover with a little over a cup of water, and simmer as you would rice until softened but still toothsome. For microwave cooking, put them in a microwave-safe bowl with two whole cloves, cover with a little over a cup of water, and cook for twenty-five to thirty minutes, or until softened but still toothsome.

Once your wheatberries are done cooking, pick out the whole cloves, and transfer the berries to a mixing bowl. Stir in one-and-a-half teaspoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of rice vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Finely mince a green onion (white and green parts) and add it to the bowl with a quarter-cup of dried cranberries. Grind over a generous sprinkling of black pepper. Stir well to combine. Allow the mixture to cool completely before transferring to the fridge to chill.

When you're ready to eat, take an ounce of fresh goat's cheese and crumble it into the wheatberry mixture. Stir gently to combine. Serve.


Alex said...

Congratulations on being FINISHED with the bar. Hopefully see you in a week or two!

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

So glad to hear that you are DONE. I can't tell you how much your meals reminded me of what I would do before a big exam in college. I ate prunes dipped in peanut butter and didn't shower, sometimes for days.

Welcome back. (And with a fabulous post, no less!)

Kelly said...

First of all, welcome back! (although this is totally belated--I was in Korea for awhile and then came back to an exam of my own--yikes)

Second of all: wheatberries are simply amazing. Sweet, so sweet! Here's another recipe that I can't stop making over and over again:

Amazing. So good. And I can't wait to try the one on your site!