Every spring, my girlfriends and I make a trip to the Stratford Festival. We drive down in the morning, enjoy a patio lunch, see a show, and drive back to Toronto by early evening. Given the name of the venue, it’s unsurprising that many of the plays they perform were written by William Shakespeare. And most years that’s what we see.
This year, however, we got tickets for The Pirates of Penzance. Gilbert and Sullivan wrote frothy confections of operettas – their shows are full of humour and silliness. Any play that has a plot based on [spoiler alert] a leap year birthday, and which is resolved by appealing to loyalty for Queen Victoria, can only be described as lighthearted. The production was full of wit, energy, and beautiful costumes. And for my Canadian readers, the pivotal role of the Major-General is played by C. David Johnson (Chuck Tchobanian from Street Legal)!
Frederic, the apprentice pirate, meets Mabel in a scene where she and her sisters are looking for a secluded spot for a picnic. (Need I say that romance ensues between Frederic and Mabel, and there was eventually one pirate for every sister?) I don’t know what they carried in their picnic basket, but if I was packing one today I’d be sure to bring along this wheat berry salad. It’s wonderfully delicious, can be made in advance, and has so many great summer flavours. Whether you’re serving a band of pirates or a Major-General, there’s something in this salad for everyone to love.
Wheat Berry Salad
(adapted from Gale Gand’s Brunch; I made a half-sized salad as the original recipe was quite large.)
1/2 cup wheat berries
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup diced yellow or red pepper
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup dried cranberries
one 6-oz can tuna, drained
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup zucchini
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh parsley
salt to taste
1/4 cup Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette (or Italian dressing)
Combine wheat berries, 1/2 quart water and salt in medium saucepan and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer 1 to 1.5 hours, until wheat berries are tender. Drain well and cool.
In large bowl, toss cooked wheat berries with bell pepper, celery, cranberries, tuna, feta, zucchini, parsley, salt and dressing. Cover and chill at least at least one hour, up to 2 days.
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp sugar
1 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch dried oregano
pinch chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk together lemon juice through parsley. Add oil in a thin stream until well-blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or refrigerate in a tightly-closed jar for up to 3 days. Shake well before using.