This wheat berry caprese grain bowl pairs some of your favorite flavors from the traditional Italian caprese salad with grains, beans, and arugula, creating a satisfying lunch or dinner all in one bowl. The ingredients are super flexible, so you can customize to your preferences.
Are you living the grain bowl life? If you haven’t made grain bowls at home, you’re missing out on an easy, satisfying meal that is so flexible, you can make hundreds of different combinations.
Today’s edition is a take on the Italian-style caprese salad, but includes beans, wheat berries, and other complementary ingredients to make it more of a meal than a side dish.
All about wheat berries
what are wheat berries?
Wheat berries are a type of whole grain. They are the edible part of the wheat kernel and include the bran, germ, and endosperm. When dry, they look similar to farro (another type of wheat), but when cooked they remain smaller and a bit more chewy.
where do i find wheat berries?
You can find them in the bulk section of your local grocery store (the most cost-effective way to buy them) or in the grain section. Because they’ve become so popular in recent years, most grocery stores carry them.
what do wheat berries taste like?
Wheat berries have a slightly nutty, earthy flavor. They are hearty and chewy, yet pair beautifully with a variety of flavors from sweet to savory.
how do i cook wheat berries?
Wheat berries are easy to cook and require little attention other than the occasional stir. For every 1 cup of wheat berries add 3 cups of water or broth to a pot. Bring to a boil then let simmer, partially covered, for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Here are some more detailed directions.
are wheat berries healthy?
As a whole grain, wheat berries have a lot to offer nutritionally. They are full of fiber, protein, B-vitamins. iron, and magnesium. Eating whole grains helps regulate blood sugar and may lower cholesterol, and wheat berries are no exception.
How to make the wheat berry caprese grain bowl
Putting together grain bowls is SO fast and easy, as long as you have all the ingredients ready.
cook your grain
You can cook the wheat berries ahead of time and keep in the fridge to save time.
drain your beans
You can use any kind of bean you have. In fact, I planned to use great northern white or cannelini beans, but my store was all out (people are hoarding ALL.THE.BEANS right now with the corona virus pandemic). So, I used pinto beans, and they worked great. You could also use chickpeas or red kidney beans. Canned are easier, but if you have the time and have planned ahead, dried and cooked are the best option from a flavor and texture standpoint.
Chop your vegetables
This bowl calls for roasted red peppers, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and olives. Olives and artichokes are totally optional, and if you can’t find decent tomatoes (let’s be honest, it’s not really tomato season right now), the roasted peppers are enough!
Start with your greens and grains. Top with the vegetables and cheese. Finish with chopped basil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Dress with a quality extra virgin olive oil, a big squeeze of lemon, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze (optional).
I can’t eat gluten. Can I use something other than wheat berries?
While this bowl features wheat berries because of how well they pair with the other ingredients, grain bowls are incredibly flexible! You absolutely can use a gluten-free grain like quinoa or brown rice here instead. Farro would also be delicious (though it also contains gluten).
I don’t like beans. Can I use a different protein?
Absolutely. Shredded or chopped chicken, grilled salmon, or shrimp would also work great here. You can also skip the beans and serve this as a light lunch or side dish.
More recipes with whole grains:
- 1 cup dried wheat berries
- 1 cup cannelini or other beans
- 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup quartered artichoke hearts
- 1-2 jarred roasted red peppers, sliced
- 1 cup baby arugula
- 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
- 6-8 kalamata olives
- fresh basil, chopped
- juice of a lemon
- olive oil for drizzling
- balsamic glaze (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Cook the wheat berries per package directions.
- Drain and rinse the beans. Chop the vegetables.
- Assemble the bowl starting with the wheat berries and arugula, then topping with vegetables, olives, chopped basil, and cheese.
- Dress by drizzling with olive oil and squeezing fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon per bowl) and a drizzle of balsamic glaze (optional). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook grains ahead of time and store in fridge for up to 3 days for easy assembly.