“THERE’S MORE OF A DIVERSITY OF PEOPLE WHO IDENTIFY AS VEGAN, whether it’s for animal rights reasons or environmental reasons, or for health reasons, or all three,” Chef Bryant Terry explained in our candid profile on him in our Fourth Issue. Terry has had his finger on the pulse of contemporary vegan cuisine for nearly a decade. As the author of four cookbooks—his latest, the best-selling Afro-Vegan—he has been thoughtfully manifesting his mission to connect all people, particularly those from underserved communities, with healthy vegan foods, and the cultural history behind them. During our photo shoot in New York City for our story “The People’s Chef,” Terry was a bundle of energy and creativity, despite having been on a non-stop touring schedule in support of his book. During the shoot at his alma mater Natural Gourmet Institute (which turned into a reunion of sorts for him), he prepared one of his signature dishes, the Cinnamon-Soaked Wheat Berry Salad–for which he shares the recipe with us here. And in our exclusive behind the scenes video from the shoot, Terry shares more words of wisdom.
Cinnamon-Soaked Wheat Berry Salad
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 cup wheat berries
3 cups boiling water
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
1-1⁄4 teaspoons coarse sea salt
3 carrots (about 8 ounces total), diced into 1⁄4-inch pieces
1 heaping cup thinly sliced dried apricots
6 tablespoons packed minced cilantro
1⁄2 cup almonds, blanched, toasted, and chopped
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground white pepper
To make the salad, put the wheat berries in a medium saucepan. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Add the cinnamon stick and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender but chewy, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and let sit with the lid on for 15 minutes. Drain if necessary and remove the cinnamon stick.
Meanwhile, prepare a medium bowl of ice water. Put about 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, then add the carrots and cook uncovered until fork-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain well, then immediately plunge the carrots into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the wheat berries, apricots, cilantro, and almonds and mix well.
To make the dressing, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon in a blender. With the blender running, slowly pour in the oil and process until creamy.
To serve, pour the dressing over the salad and toss well with clean hands. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow flavors to meld. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to bring to room temperature. Season with white pepper to taste just before serving.
Put the almonds in a heatproof bowl and pour in boiling water to cover. After 1 minute, drain the almonds in a colander, then rinse them with cold water. Drain well, transfer to a clean kitchen towel, and pat dry. Use your fingers to slip off the skins.
Toasting Nuts and Seeds:
Toasted nuts and seeds add texture, unique flavors, and protein to salads, stir-fries, and other dishes. To bring out their natural oil and enhance their taste, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking often, until fragrant, about 4 minutes; or toast on a baking sheet in an oven at 325°F for 5 to 7 minutes, shaking the pan a few times for even cooking. Nuts and seeds contain oils that will go rancid, so store them in a freezer.
Video by Alex Gaylon of Karmalize Productions.
Pick up our Fourth Issue to read the full story “The People’s Chef” by Elizabeth Castoria with exclusive photography by Balarama Heller.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.