Ever since my food service class in undergrad I have been crazy about herb gardens. The class involved operating both the department cafeteria and a seated dining room two times a week. I had to take the course over the summer the year before I graduated so the fresh foods we used were at their peak.
On the first day of class Chef walked us outside and showed us the herb garden right behind our building on campus. I had walked by it on my way to classes for nearly 2 years and had never seen it. It was a modest row of basics – basil, thyme, parsley, oregano, dill, cilantro and a few others. The whole garden was only about 6 feet long and 3 feet wide, but the plants were overflowing out onto the side walk and most came to at least knee height.
It was my first introduction to using fresh herbs in cooking. I’m sure that was evident to my instructors when I kept pronouncing thyme as it looks with the “th” and not “time.” Our TA quietly told me the correct pronunciation to help me avoid embarrassment.
Since then I’ve been interested in herb gardens and while I still may mispronounce a name now and then, and I am thrilled to have my own again this year. The only problem is the plants produce A LOT and my cooking can’t keep up with them. I’m always looking for things to use them in, but I have to admit they tend to go a few days at a time without me picking a single leaf.
So last week, armed with some wheat berries, I began thinking about what herbs would go well with the grain. That led me to think about the fresh cucumbers I picked up at the farmer’s market which ended up in thoughts of Greek yogurt.
Finally, all those food thoughts resulted in this:
The Cucumber Dill Wheat Berry Salad ended up a hit. I was able to combine two of my favorite herbs for a refreshing cold grain salad. I used leftover, previously cooked wheat berries so if yours are still warm, wash them well under cold water to cool them off. Also, peel your cucumber before chopping if it is of the waxy skin variety.
I’ve already made this salad once more for lunch and now I have my eye out for a potluck to take it to (it can easily be doubled or tripled).
Cucumber Dill Wheat Berry Salad
Makes: 2 servings
1 cup cooked wheat berries
½ medium cucumber, chopped
1 T fresh lemon juice
½ T fresh dill, chopped
½ T fresh chives, chopped
1 ½ T plain Greek yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the wheat berries and chopped cucumber in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, dill, chives and yogurt. Pour the dressing over the wheat berries and toss or stir to coat. Sprinkle with a generous amount of sea salt which adds great flavor and a little black pepper. Eat right away, or refrigerate for up to a day.