Grilled Eggplant Caprese Wheat berry Salad

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I developed this recipe years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite salads. It can be easily veganized by using smoked tofu instead of the smoked mozzarella, and frankly, I prefer the tofu version. I’m going to share the recipe with you, but first I want to talk a little bit about how I like to stock my freezer with cooked grains and legumes. I usually cook two different grains and two different legumes a week, and freeze the leftovers in single or double size portions. That way I can always pull something out of my freezer for a quick meal by adding whatever veggies I have on hand and one of the many sauces I keep on hand. (I also make the sauces in a big batch and freeze them too.)

For breakfast this morning, I used my cooked wheatberries and white beans, added some zucchini, spinach, and cilantro-mint chutney and had a great breakfast in under 10 minutes! It may not look great, but the mint chutney pulled it all together and gave it a great, cooked all day flavor.

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I’m a huge lover of leftovers for breakfast!

Now, onto the recipe for this awesome salad:

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Serves 6 as a side dish

  • 1 c wheat berries
  • 4 c water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 2 inch rounds
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 cloves pressed garlic, divided (around 4 teaspoons)
  • 4 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, washed and dried (around 1 ½ cups loosely packed), hand torn
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • Juice of 1 lemon (around ¼ cup)
  • 4 ounces fresh smoked mozzarella* or smoked tofu cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Smoked sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, bring wheat berries, water and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil. Cover, turn heat down to simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the wheat berries are tender. Drain in a colander, rinse and set aside. This can be done the night before
  • Slice eggplant, place in a gallon size ziplock bag with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 pressed garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt. Let this marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
  • Grill eggplant over medium heat for around 4 minutes a side, set aside
  • In a bowl, add the cooked wheat berries, the rest of the vinegar and olive oil, tomatoes, basil, herbs, lemon zest and juice and smoked mozzarella.
  • Chop eggplant and add to bowl, toss and add smoked sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

*Smoked Tofu is a great alternative to smoked mozzarella for those wishing to avoid dairy. You can find it in many Chinese markets and in some supermarkets.

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