Wheat Berry Salad with Squash, Kale, Currants, and Walnuts
This warm wheat berry salad combines the chewy texture of wheat berries with sweet roasted squash, tart currants, and crunchy walnuts. A simple maple-sweetened dressing layers on extra flavor to this hearty fall salad that can be served as a main or side dish. This recipe gets bonus points because leftovers make a satisfying, packable, and healthy lunch!
This recipe was originally published in 2014. We've updated the post with some new photos and more information, but we've left the delicious recipe exactly the same.
This wheat berry salad has so much going for it. It's hearty, healthy, sweet, and savory with lots of texture and endless variations. Served warm, it's the perfect salad for cooler temperatures. The more robust ingredients like kale, squash, walnuts, and wheat berries keep well in the fridge making this recipe one to double for an elevated make-ahead lunch.
What are wheat berries?
Wheat berries are the whole wheat kernel with the husk removed. They're essentially wheat in its most basic, unprocessed form. They tend to be reddish-brown in color with a sweet and slightly nutty taste. When cooked, they have a wonderful chewy texture that lends a heartiness to salads and side dishes. They're loaded with fiber, protein, and vitamins and can be used in place of other whole grains like rice, quinoa, kamut, spelt, or farro. If you've never tried them before, you'll be pleasantly surprised!
How to cook wheat berries
Wheat berries are prepared much like other grains but they do require a bit more cooking time. Don't let this shy you away from making these tiny nutrition powerhouses! Cooking time is entirely hands-off and they're ready in just 3 easy steps:
- Boil 2 cups of water and/or broth in a medium-sized pot.
- Add 1 cup of rinsed wheat berries and simmer for 30-40 minutes until chewy.
- Drain any excess water and use right away or store them for later.
Double the quantity to make extra for adding to soups and salads. Cooked wheat berries can be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container for about 3 days.
You'll love the maple dressing
Making a delicious maple dressing is simple and the sweet-tart flavor goes perfectly with hearty salads like this wheat berry one. It uses just a few ingredients:
Olive oil – extra virgin olive oil makes a great base for salad dressings.
Apple cider vinegar – this acts as the acid and gives the dressing its tart flavor. Look for unfiltered apple cider vinegar that will appear cloudy and murky and comes with the ‘mother'.
Maple syrup – pure maple syrup adds a wonderful, rich sweetness with hints of caramel and vanilla.
Garlic – garlic's unique and pungent flavor adds a hint of spiciness that rounds out this dressing.
Extra dressing stores well in an air-tight jar or container in the fridge for about a week. The olive oil will solidify in the fridge so you'll want to take it out 10-15 minutes before you want to use it. Don't forget to give it a good shake!
Make it a meal
This wheat berry salad is a meal on its own but you could easily make it a heartier complete meal by topping it with desired add-ins like:
- Perfect baked chicken breasts
- 8 minute baked salmon
- Roasted or raw chickpeas
- Creamy goat cheese
- Sautéed tempeh
- Grilled tofu
Wheat Berry Salad: FAQs
You can find wheat berries in the grain aisle of most well-stocked grocery stores. You may also find them in the bulk section along with other grains.
Curly kale is ideal for this recipe but lacinato (also known as dino kale) would work well, too.
Yes! The skin on both kabocha and butternut squash is completely edible and provides additional fiber and nutrients. That said, if you prefer to peel it you certainly can.
We love walnuts in this recipe but you could also use pecans, pistachios, or almonds.
Dried cranberries work equally well.
While this salad is best eaten right away, it's also a great make-ahead salad. Prepare it up to 3 days in advance without the dressing and store it in the fridge. It tastes best warm so you'll want to heat it to above room temperature then toss it with dressing right before serving.
Popular whole grain recipes
- Wheat Berries with Caramelized Onions and Pecans
- Curried Chicken and Wheat Berry Salad
- Autumn Quinoa Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing
- Arugula and Wild Rice Salad
Wheat Berry Salad with Squash, Kale and Walnuts
If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!
- 1 cup wheat berries, or substitute kamut or spelt for gluten-free
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 ½ cups kale, chopped
- 2 cups kaboucha squash (or substitute butternut squash), diced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup dried currants
- Sea salt, to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
- Combine the wheat berries and the broth or water in a small pot over high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered for 30-40 minutes, or until the wheat berries are chewy. Remove the pot from the heat, add in the kale and mix it through. Let it sit for about 1 minute, or until the kale has just started to soften. Drain any remaining water from the pot.1 cup wheat berries, 2 cups vegetable broth or water, 1 ½ cups kale
- While the wheat berries are cooking, prepare the squash. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Toss the diced squash with the olive oil and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until it is soft.
- While the squash is in the oven roast the walnuts on a baking sheet for 8-10 minutes, or until they are light brown and fragrant. Roughly chop them when they are cool enough to handle.½ cup walnuts
- In a small bowl whisk the oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and garlic.¼ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 small clove garlic
- In a large bowl, mix the cooked wheat berries and kale, walnuts, squash, and currants. Toss with the dressing and season generously with sea salt.½ cup dried currants, Sea salt