Recently I was given some wheat berries by Trenchmore who are growing heritage grains as well as producing delicious beef and cider. I have been searching for a suitable ‘historic’ recipe to use them in. Frumenty was an obvious choice but as I had (a) already done that, and (b) spring is here and summer is approaching and frumenty is more of a winter dish in my opinion, I wanted to create something lighter to make the most of these nutty morsels. This is very loosely inspired by a recipe by X. Marcel Boulestin that I found in Simple French Cooking for English Homes (1923).
Salade D’Orge et D’Oranges – Oranges and Barley
Boil some barley; peel some oranges, remove the skin of each quarter, dress with salt, vinegar, and a very little oil.
As you can see Boulestin’s sparse instructions leave plenty of room for interpretation! You can make this more of a main dish by topping it with some flaked smoked mackerel. If you can’t get hold of blood oranges, regular oranges will work just as well.
- 200g wheat berries, rinsed under the cold tap
- 100g blanched whole hazelnuts
- 3-4 blood oranges (depending on their size)
- 1 clove garlic crushed with ½ tsp sea salt flakes
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or walnut oil if you have it)
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 tsp runny honey
- 2 tbsp each chopped dill, mint, parsley and chives
- 50g baby spinach leaves
- Salt and pepper to season
- Place the wheat berries in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of cold, unsalted water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour. The berries will still retain a bit of bite but shouldn’t be hard. Drain and allow to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180℃. Roast the whole hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 5 minutes. Give them a quick shuffle and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until they are a rich golden brown. Allow to cool before coarsely chopping.
- Using a sharp knife remove the peel and pith from the outside of each orange. Carefully remove each orange segment leaving the skin attached to the core, then chop it into 2 or three pieces. Place in a large bowl along with any extra juice.
- Mix the garlic, olive oil, vinegar and honey in a clean jam jar. Shake well and leave to infuse.
- When all the cooked ingredients are cold place them in the bowl along with the orange segments. Add the chopped herbs and baby spinach before straining over the dressing. Toss thoroughly seasoning well with salt and pepper according to taste. This salad can be made ahead of time.