Photo Alex Harris
We eat pretty well in our house, but I’m always trying to increase the number of healthy foods in our diet. My husband and son always tease me about it. The first time I made this casserole, my husband said that if we’d left the wheat berries uncooked we might have been able to make Sugar Puffs cereal from them, and my son put ketchup on them – but both of them cleaned their plates!
Up until very recently, we had never tried wheat berries. Then my husband and I tasted them in in a restaurant, and we were pleasantly surprised. Wheat berries are are entire wheat kernels, containing all the goodness of the whole grain. In the UK, we can buy them as Ebly, a one hundred percent natural product grown in France. Ebly pre-cook the wheat berries, a bit like Uncle Ben’s parboil rice, in order to preserve the nutrients and reduce cooking time. Ebly can then be boiled, baked, steamed or fried in about ten minutes.
I have only tested this recipe using Ebly. If you were going to use wheat berries that have not been pre-cooked, you would need to soak and cook them first. You might want to sauté the vegetables in a bit of oil before adding them to the wheat berries in that case, as well as using less stock and baking the recipe for about 20 minutes instead of half an hour.
Mediterranean Wheat Berry Casserole
Adapted from Ebly’s own recipe for Cheese and Ham Bake
Serves 4 a a main course
1½ cups Ebly
3 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 courgette (zucchini), sliced in half lengthwise and then thinly in half moons
2 peppers (I use red and yellow), de-seeded and very thinly sliced
1 cup grated vegetarian cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC, or 180ºC for fan ovens).
Mix the Ebly, vegetable stock, basil, pepper, and the vegetables together thoroughly in a large casserole. Spread the mixture evenly in the casserole. Sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the wheat berries are soft, and the cheese is golden brown.