Vegan Thanksgiving: Curried Wheat Berry & Cherry Salad plus Spiced Cranberry-Pear Sauce with Vanilla Bean
Thanksgiving is only a few days away, and I have to admit that it’s one of my favorite events of the year. Planning the menu, cooking for people you love, and then presenting them with a meal that (hopefully) stimulates their taste buds and satisfies their tummies. I love it.
Of course, Thanksgiving is about more than the food. It’s a chance to connect with family and friends (fingers crossed your family doesn’t drive you up the wall) and to splurge a little.
My gratitude this year is simple. I’m grateful for my family, my incredible friends, the opportunities that always seem to present themselves exactly when I need them most, and for the chance to connect with you, dear readers. Sharing food and ideas is one of my favorite things. So I am blessed to have this opportunity to reach you (because you’re pretty damn awesome, if you ask me).
Enough of the fluffy stuff, let’s talk FOOD.
This curried wheat berry salad is both refreshing and modern while being filling and comforting. It evokes feelings of stuffing, but has a lighter, cooler crunch. If you like bold flavors, please do increase the amount of curry being used. I opted for a somewhat mild flavor, so as not to scare off the traditionalists in the family.
The cranberry sauce is divine. It’s not too sweet, it has some surprising depth, but still makes you feel like that age ol’ cranberry sauce we all know and love.
Though the wheat berries do take some time to cook, the rest comes together quickly. The cranberry sauce will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days (in fact, the flavors will develop as it sits), and the wheat berry salad can easily be made the day before. This allows the flavors of the sauce to soak into the grains.
I hope you and yours have a wonderful, stress-free Thanksgiving. If all else fails, there’s always Chinese food!
- – 2 cups hard wheat berries
- – 1 cup chopped celery
- – 1/2 cup green onions, finely sliced
- – 1 cup pecan pieces, toasted
- – 1 cup dried cherries (or dried cranberries)
- – 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- – 1 Tablespoon lemon (or orange) juice
- – 2-3 teaspoons yellow curry powder
- – Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1. Rinse wheat berries, and place in a large stock pot. Cover with at least 2-3 inches of water. Set to boil, uncovered, for 1 hour or until soft and chewy.
- 2. Drain and spread on a cookie sheet or in a large, flat bowl to cool.
- 3. Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, curry powder, and a strong pinch of salt and pepper.
- 4. Toss the celery, green onions, pecans, and cherries with the cooled wheat berries. Pour the dressing over the top and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust salt and curry powder to your liking.
- 5. Tastes best if chilled in the fridge, covered, for at least an hour though overnight is better.
- – 4 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
- – 1 large pear, peeled, cored, and finely diced
- – 2 cups water
- – 1 vanilla bean, scraped (you’ll be using the seeds you removed, not the pod)
- – 2/3 cup sugar
- – 1/4 tsp cardamom
- – 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- – 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- – 2 Tablespoons orange juice
- – (optional) orange zest for serving
- 1. Combine all of the ingredients, except for the zest, in a medium saucepan.
- 2. Over medium-high heat, bring to a low boil.
- 3. Stirring occasionally, cook until the cranberries have completely broken down and the sauce is thickened. It has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan, so be sure to stir well and lower the heat as you go.
- 4. Remove from heat, pour into a glass container with a lid, and set in the fridge to cool. As it cools, the sauce will continue to thicken.
- 5. To serve, top with orange zest.