“That is awesome.”
Mark had snuck in a taste of this finished wheat berries with charred onion and kale dish as I was cleaning up the kitchen before dinner. I was skeptical – I had picked the dish out of Bon Appetit because it looked easy, healthy and cheap (and it is all those things), but had not had particularly high hopes about it taste-wise. But that’s because I forgot a very simple food rule: a tiny bit of char can improve most everything.
- 1 ½ cups wheat berries (available in bulk at Whole Foods)
- 2 medium onions, halved, divided
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 1 tbsp kosher salt plus more for seasoning
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bunch kale, stemmed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (about 8 packed cups)
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
First, I threw the wheat berries in a saucepan with half of one of the onions, chopped up, the thyme sprigs, and 1 Tbsp. of the salt, then added enough water to cover everything by about 2 inches. I brought the mixture to a boil, then reduced the heat to medium and simmered until wheat berries are just tender but still firm to the bite, about 35-40 minutes. Once the grains were done, I drained the little water remaining, threw out the thyme sprigs and put the wheat berries in a large bowl to wait for the rest of the ingredients.
I sliced the remaining 3 onion halves crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, then charred them in our cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat (with 1 Tbsp. oil). As the onions cooked (about 6-8 minutes), I sprinkled the slices with salt and pepper. Once the onions had had a chance to char up a little, I transferred them to the bowl with wheat berries.
Using the same skillet, I heated up another tbsp of oil and cooked the kale in three batches, seasoning with salt and pepper as I went and adding more oil as needed. It only took a minute or two for the leaves to start to char and crisp, at which point I added them to the bowl with the onions and wheat berries.
Finally, I drizzled the whole shebang with lemon juice and the remaining oil, tossed it all together and added just a bit of extra salt and pepper. This was so simple, yet so tasty, and surprisingly filling. In fact, we probably only took down a 1/3 of this, and ate the leftovers for the next day (with fried eggs on top!). The combination of slightly chewy wheat berries, sweet onions, and just barely cooked, bitter, crispy kale is indeed, awesome. That’ll teach me to doubt Mark.