Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's Not What You Think...

It's getting to be that time again. That time in which I need to somehow make $5000 appear out of thin air. I'm starting to think about this, and that means that my "student summer" is almost beginning. I am trying not to stress, but I have a feeling there will be a few minor breakdowns in my near future. I'm trying to be logical. I can do this.
The logical side of my brain seems to have dissipated over the past couple weeks. I'm dreaming of flying to far away places, of lying on the beach in a perfect little bikini, of going to the gym 5 days a week because I actually have spare time. This, I would argue, isn't illogical. I am a determined little lady, who's aspirations I happen to KNOW will happen. Are happening. I'm not realistic (what an awful, dreaded word!), but I have all the faith in the world I can do it all, have it all, see it all.
When I say that my brain has become illogical, I'm mostly referring to my eating habits as of late. They are horrifying. I keep forgetting to eat these days. Between work, and school, and intense last minute homework sessions (ugh, who am I!? I never leave things for the last minute!) my eating habits have essentially become non-existent. The other day I had a POP TART for breakfast. A pop tart! Seriously. Then it was Ky's birthday and I got sent home with leftover cake, vowing I wouldn't eat any of it myself, but instead share it with my lovely family. And you know what happened the next morning? I ate that cake. I ate it for breakfast and I was hungry, and exhausted an hour later, willing myself to stay awake long enough to hear my teacher tell me what the hell John Donne is rambling on about in his poetry. That guy, by the way, is a really quite a sap. If nothing else, this semester I've learnt that I'm not really into the "romantic genre" of literature.
Anyway, on Tuesday I decided enough was enough. I missed my chickpeas, my whole grains, and bright vegetables that I used to see so often. So I made a salad, and I think all of my life's problems were solved after that.

This salad is holy-smokes-so-so-so-good status. Wheat berries are so delicious! I love their nutty taste and chewy texture. This salad really has quite the abundance of flavors: we've got said nuttiness from wheat berries, sweetness of orange dressing, smokiness of roasted peppers, and the peppery arugula. Mmmm! I'm quite sure it is very healthy as well. It gives me a lot of energy too, which comes in handy during early morning lectures!

I swear, I don't eat cakes and cookies all day every day. (starting today. better late than never...)
Wheat Berry and Arugula Salad
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Best Recipes and Reviews 2011

I kind of do things my own way when it comes to this salad. The directions (in my opinion) are kind of fussy. Unless you are planning on serving this as part of a dinner course, I would suggest pouring all the dressing in with the wheat berries and chickpeas and letting them hang out in the fridge like that. That way, you can just grab a handful of arugula and add the dressing/topping as you need it. Otherwise (if you pour the dressing on the arugula to being with) you will end up with soggy leave, which is awful!

1 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup wheat berries
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry, and chopped
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
Black Pepper
8 ounces baby arugula (about 8 cups)

For the dressing:
Bring the orange juice to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the juice is syrupy and reduced to 1/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the orange juice syrup to a small bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the cilantro, lime juice, water, oil, honey, garlic, cumin, salt, paprika, and cayenne, and set aside.

For the salad:
Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the wheat berries and 1/2 teaspoon salt, partially cover, and cook, stirring often, until tender but still chewy, about 1 hour. Drain the wheat berries and rinse them under cold running water until cool. Transfer the wheat berries to a large bowl and set aside.

Assemble the salad!:
Stir the chickpeas, roasted red peppers, feta, and half of the dressing into the bowl with the wheat berries. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. In a separate bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining dressing and divide among 4 plates. Arrange 1 cup of the wheat berry mixture on top of each salad and serve.

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