Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Wheat Berry, White Bean, and Spinach Sauté

Wheat Berry, White Bean, and Spinach Sauté
Mushrooms add homerun flavor to this simple vegan dish

Need easy vegan for Meatless Monday? Or maybe for hosting vegan friends? We have just what you’re looking for.

It’s a mix of cooked wheat berries, white beans, mushrooms, and fresh spinach. Add some herbs for extra flavor, and you have a luscious main dish that everyone at the table will like.

Healthy flavor. It’s what’s for dinner.

Wheat Berry, White Bean, and Spinach Sauté
Recipe: Wheat Berry, White Bean, and Spinach Sauté

This dish uses white beans, but you could substitute a different bean if you like – chickpeas or lentils would be particularly nice. We made this dish with cooked corona beans because we had some in the freezer. For more information about corona beans, see our Italian Corona Bean Salad post.

We've used wheat berries before. See our Wheat Berry Chili post for more information about them.

Prep time for this dish is about 10 minutes. The wheat berries need about 45 to 60 minutes to cook, but you can make them ahead if you wish (see Notes). The sauté itself takes about 15 minutes.

This dish yields about 4 hearty servings. Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup uncooked wheat berries
  • 1½ cups water for cooking the wheat berries
  • 3 to 4 pinches of kosher salt (to taste; see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • additional salt to taste (several pinches of kosher salt for us; see Notes)
  • ~8 ounces mushrooms, sliced or quartered
  • ~2 teaspoons za’atar spice blend or other herb of choice (see Notes)
  • ~1½ cups cooked white beans (or one 15-ounce can of white beans, drained and rinsed)
  • ~8 ounces fresh spinach (you could probably substitute frozen)
  • a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar (optional but tasty)

Procedure 

  1. Add the wheat berries to 2-quart saucepan (for extra flavor, you may want to toast the wheat berries first; see Notes). Add the water, plus salt to taste. Bring the water to a simmer, cover the pan, then cook until the wheat berries are done (start checking after 30 minutes; they’ll probably be soft, but still quite chewy, at about 45 minutes – total cooking time could be anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes). As the wheat berries cook, check the pan from time to time and add water if necessary. (You can cook the wheat berries ahead of time; see Notes.)
  2. When ready to complete the dish: Place a large frying pan over medium stovetop heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is heated (it’ll shimmer; about 15 seconds), add the minced shallot. Season to taste with salt, then sauté for 1 minute. Add the chopped mushrooms. Add additional salt to taste, along with the za’atar seasoning. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked (or canned) beans and the cooked wheat berries, along with any cooking liquid that remains with the wheat berries (this should be about ½ cup). Stir the mixture to combine, then cook for 5 minutes. Taste, then adjust the seasoning if necessary. 
  4. Add a handful of spinach. Stir to incorporate, then keep adding spinach until all of it is mixed with the mushrooms, beans, and wheat berries (the spinach will reduce in volume considerably as it cooks). Cook until the spinach is just tender (2 minutes or so).
  5. Taste the dish, then add a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar if you like (see Notes). Serve and enjoy.

Wheat Berry, White Bean, and Spinach Sauté
Notes

  • The flavor of wheat berries is understated, but they absorb other flavors beautifully. If you want to give wheat berries more flavor of their own, you can toast them: Just spread the wheat berries out on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven at 350° F for about 10 minutes before cooking. 
  • You can cook the wheat berries a day or two ahead of time, then refrigerate them until ready to use. Sometimes we cook a big batch of wheat berries, divide them into containers, and freeze them.
  • We don’t usually rinse wheat berries before cooking, but do so if you prefer.
  • Our usual practice when cooking wheat berries is to use 3 measures of water for each measure of wheat berries. We add a bit of salt to the cooking pot to season.
  • You could increase the amount of dried wheat berries in this dish to ¾ cup if you prefer. If you go that route, you’ll need to increase the amount of cooking liquid to 2¼ cups.
  • Za’atar is particularly popular throughout the eastern Mediterranean region. The term “za’atar” refers to both a family of herbs and a spice mixture. Za’atar blends usually contain thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, and other seasonings.
  • We’re using a commercial za’atar spice blend for this dish (the kind you’ll typically find at the grocery store). 
  • But any herb you fancy will probably work in this dish. Thyme pairs especially well with mushrooms. Fresh rosemary would also be delightful. And you could add some chopped parsley to the dish right before serving.
  • This dish doesn’t contain a lot of salt. So we often add a splash of acid (in the form of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar) right before serving to brighten its flavor. Plus, we always have salt and black pepper on the table for those that want to add them.
  • Speaking of salt: We use kosher salt for cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.

Wheat Berry, White Bean, and Spinach Sauté
Out of Left Field

“Nice flavor!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “You really stepped up to the plate when you created this dish.”

“Wish the baseball owners and players would do the same,” I said. “So far, their negotiations have been a rain out.”

“You’d think they’d be more on the ball,” said Mrs K R. “Coming off a pandemic, and with a bloody war in Europe, they might want to rethink their priorities.”

“Yup,” I said. “But instead, it’s been no hits, no runs, all errors.”

“They’ve just been pitching curves at one another,” said Mrs K R. “So everybody is striking out.”

And they’re throwing beanballs at the fans.

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62 comments:

  1. The za’atar spice blend makes this wholesome dish even more interesting!

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    1. Hi Angie, it does! Perfect flavoring for this recipe, we think. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  2. Great dish, I do love toasting wheat berries. It brings out all their flavor.

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    1. Hi Dahn, toasted wheat berries definitely have more flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Wheat berries are a great ingredient: I’ll have to add them to my list, as I haven’t kept them on hand recently. I also like wheat berries with dried cherries or dried cranberries and other general salad ingredients.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Mae, haven't had wheat berries with dried cherries -- sounds like a lovely combo. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  4. Great flavors & textures in this healthy dish. It looks tasty.

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    1. Hi Pam, very tasty. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  5. za’atar spice is one I haven't tried before. I've seen it all over the place, but just haven't taken the dive yet. This dish does sound interesting and a good one to try it with. We love wheat berries and use them in salads and soups or mix them in with rice. Love white and greens together so this dish does have my interest. It looks quite good. Thanks for a new creation John.

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    1. Hi MJ, za’atar is definitely worth trying -- quite nice flavor. And works well in this dish, we think. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  6. This looks like such an interesting dish. Wheat berries are on my shopping list and thanks for the reminder to use my za'atar spice mix again. A very tasty Meat free Monday dish full of texture and flavour. Thanks so much KR.

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    1. Hi Pauline, we don't use za’atar nearly as much as we should! Or wheat berries, for that matter. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. Love white beans and za'atar is always on hand. wheat berries however do not seem to be sold in our bigger stores ! A few 'natural health' shops do list them - may just try out of curiosity ! Your plate looks so appetizing :) !

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    1. Hi Eha, we sometimes have difficulty getting wheat berries, too, although we can always find them online. Worth seeking out -- they're so good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  8. You must be reading my mind. I love this pantry meal as I always have white beans and wheat berries. And Manservant keeps this giant thing of spinach in the other fridge that almost always never gets eaten. This recipe will help.

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    1. Hi Abbe, glad to help with the spinach abundance. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  9. A perfect meal to reduce some calories but not the flavor and taste.

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    1. Hi Gerlinde, you're right both about the calories and the flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. wheat berries? do we have them here i wonder? we must! your dish looks deliciously tasty KR.

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    1. Hi Sherry, I'd assume you have wheat berries -- check out the health food stores! :-) Farro would be a good substitute. Thanks for the comment.

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  11. Thanks for this simply delicious and healthy recipe.

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    1. Hi Bernadette, it's really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  12. This sounds delicious! Great flavor in this healthy dish.

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    1. Hi Dawn, yup, tons of flavor. Tons. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  13. I really do need to make more dishes with za’atar spice blend. It just sits in the cupboard neglected and sad. Thanks for the inspiration to pull it out again!

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    1. HI Judy, this dish just sort of cries out for za’atar, I think. At least to us! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  14. Za'atar seemed to be trending in the restaurants I frequent, but then the pandemic seemed to put an end to restaurants in general. :-( Nonetheless, I'm so glad to have been introduced to it. It's so interesting. I'm sure it adds an intriguing flavor to these beans!

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    1. Hi Jeff, we really like za'atar in dishes like this -- adds a nice layer of complexity. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  15. Excellent segue into the baseball negotiations!
    I have always rinsed my wheat berries (no idea why) but I am going to be a big girl when I make this and just chuck them in unranked.
    Though it is not keto it is a great sounding recipe for those meatless meals.

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    1. Hi Anne, the wheat berries we buy are always so clean looking we've never felt the need to rinse. Probably should, but there's that laziness thing. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. This recipe makes me think we should officially change the phrase to Mushroom Monday! GREG

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    1. Hi Greg, that's certainly appropriate for many of our meatless dishes. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  17. What an interesting combination! It looks very tasty :)

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  18. Ohhh my that looks really good

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    1. Hi Raymund, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  19. We do not use wheat berries often and have no idea why. Your dish looks super hearty and delicious with lots of fun textures.

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    1. Hi Bobbi, terrific texture in this. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  20. I love the stick-to-your-ribs quality about this dish that's sans meat. It looks hearty and nourishing, and just the ticket for this time of year.

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    1. Hi Carolyn, this definitely fills you up! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  21. This dish is a vegetarian’s dream!!
    Love all the flavors here, I already know my family is going to enjoy this recipe a lot!

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    1. H Balvinder, it really is a vegetarian's dream -- good description. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  22. We love wheat berries and are always on the lookout for meatless dishes. The flavours here sound wonderful and perfect for these wintery days we’re still having. I also toast wheat berries (as well as other grains).
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/

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    1. Hi Eva, toasting grain does add an extra dimension, doesn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  23. What a delicious dish! I know I have a bag of wheatberries in the pantry and this is the perfect resaon to resurrect them!

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  24. Why do I never cook with wheat berries? I need to try it! I like the idea of toasting them for extra flavor.

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    1. Hi Ashley, you do need to try these! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  25. Looks delicious. I'm trying to include more beans in our diet.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Hi Amalia, we like beans, a lot, so we use them, a lot. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  26. Having a vegetarian meal at least couple of times a week is probably a good idea. I like wheat berries, and spinach and mushrooms is always a good addition. Thanks for sharing.

    Velva

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    1. Hi Velva, we'll never turn down mushrooms! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  27. I think that plant-based vegan meals are becoming more popular especially as people become more concerned about their health. This recipes sounds amazing and I love the za'atar spice.

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    1. Hi Judee, there's a lot to be said for a plant-based diet! Thanks for the comment.

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  28. John -my hat looks as “meaty” as any dish I’ve seen! And the flavors and textures sound spectacular. Count me in for and meatless meal like this!

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    1. Hi David, it really does have a meaty -- or shall we say satisfying? -- flavor. Really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  29. Dear friend! Your presentation photos looks great! This recipe looks very new for us. Looks so healthy and hearty.

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    1. Hi B&S, it's SUCH a good dish! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  30. What a unique and healthy dish. ANd perfect for when you have vegans coming!

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    1. Hi Inger, isn't this nice? Really tasty and satisfying. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  31. Thats my kind of meal. Clean simple flavours that allow each and every ingredient to shine through. :)

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    1. Hi Taruna, just a few ingredients, but every one adds its own character. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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