Spicy Kale and Wheat Berry Salad

This one-dish spicy kale and wheat berry salad has evolved over the past several months into one of our favorite vegetarian weeknight dinners. My experimentation with wheat berry salads began a while back with a delightful Greek wheat berry salad that is still on regular rotation. Then this winter I fell in love with kale, braising it with turnips and bacon, and even making the ubiquitous kale chips that have saturated the blogosphere. (For the record, I think that kale chips are a waste of perfectly good kale. I really don’t dig them.) Then one evening I had the fortuitous thought to sauté kale and leeks together with a bit of vegetable broth and a spices, poach a few eggs in the mix, and then spoon the whole concoction over a heaping pile of whole grains. To give the dish a fiery kick I added a spoonful of sambal oelek, which is a ground fresh chili paste used frequently in Indonesian cooking. (I found my jar at Cost Plus World Market, but you can also buy it online for only $2.99.)

Making the Spicy Kale and Wheat Berry Salad

A few bites into the dinner, and we were hooked. Chewy wheat berries support the savory kale and leeks, while a the lightly poached egg breaks open to give the salad a saucy dressing. The heat from the sambal oelek makes the dish anything but boring- add enough you may even break a sweat! If you want to round out the dinner even further, a few pats of goat cheese can be added to the pan while you poach the eggs, melting into the kale and adding a creamy tang to the entire dish. If you are looking to go vegetarian a few nights a week, this is a recipe that will keep a meat-loving spouse satisfied, and provide a savory and spicy kick to the routine. Paired with a glass of full bodied red wine, you won’t miss the meat at all!

Spicy Kale and Wheat Berry Salad

Spicy Kale and Wheat Berry Salad (Printable Recipe)
Serves 4
Note: Whole grains take a while to cook (1-2 hours) but can easily be cooked once a week, and then stored in the fridge for future use. If you cannot find sambal oleek, sriracha would make a good substitute. Also, adding 4 oz of goat cheese when poaching the eggs, is a good option to round-out the dish.
Ingredients:
2 cups Wheat Berries (In the dish above I used 1 cup Wheat Berries and 1 cup Kamut)
Water
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 large bunch kale, washed, stems removed, and coarsely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tablespoons sambal oelek (2 is very spicy, start with 1 and add more as needed)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 lemon, juiced
4 eggs
4 ounces goat cheese (optional)
Directions:
Rinse the wheat berries, and place them in a medium pot with a lid. Add water to the pot until it is about 3 inches above the wheat berries. Add 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt to the pot. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and cook the wheat berries until they are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Drain off the excess water and cover the pot with the lid to keep the wheat berries warm until you are ready to serve them.
Place a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the olive oil, leeks, kale, and garlic to the skillet. Sauté gently for 2-3 minutes, until the kale begins to wilt. Next add the sambal oelek, cumin, paprika, pepper, salt, vegetable broth, and lemon juice. Stir until the spices and vegetables are combined, then cover the skillet with a lid and cook until the kale is completely wilted, about 4 minutes. If the mixture looks too dry, add a bit more vegetable broth. Once the kale is wilted, use a spoon to make 4 indented “holes” in the mixture. Crack an egg into each hole, if using goat cheese add the sliced goat cheese around the eggs. Cover the skillet with the lid and continue to cook until the eggs are poached to your desired level of
doneness (about 2 minutes for a runny center). To serve, place the wheat berries on a plate, then spoon an egg and the kale mixture on top of the wheat berries. Serve hot with a sprinkling of salt and freshly cracked pepper on top.
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