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Sargent Choice Cooking

Cod and a colorful grain salad, a warm weather harbinger


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In the video above, chef Walter Dunphy prepares herb-crusted cod over a warm wheat berry salad with edamame, roasted corn, heirloom tomatoes, and asparagus.

Walter Dunphy, BU’s executive chef, ushers in the warm weather with a recipe for sautéed cod and a colorful wheat berry salad with fresh vegetables. With little advance preparation, this makes a surprisingly quick and healthful meal. Both the salad and the cod need only a few minutes over heat to bring out their flavors.

An underutilized side dish in many home kitchens, grain salads are filling, light, and nutritious. Dunphy’s recipe uses wheat berries, the whole grain kernels that are, in their most common form, ground into everyday flour, and that take on a slightly chewy, nutty quality when cooked. For color and flavor, Dunphy adds corn (preferably fresh, but frozen is fine), red pepper, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and edamame, the shelled whole soybeans that are a staple snack in Japan and are now commonplace in grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

Dunphy pairs the salad with simply prepared cod, lightly breaded and seasoned with fresh cilantro, tarragon, and parsley. (Salmon or halibut substitute nicely when they’re in season, he says.) He tops the finished product with a mix of micro-herbs for a dish that’s both green and full of protein. The result serves four.

4 four-ounce boneless, skinless cod filets
1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley, minced
1 teaspoon tarragon, minced
1 teaspoon cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon ground sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Spanish extra-virgin olive oil

Cracked Wheat Berry Salad
3/4 cup dried wheat berries (will yield about 2 cups cooked)
1 cup shelled edamame, blanched
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup diced Vidalia onion
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
2 cups asparagus, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup minced chives
1/4 teaspoon ground sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
Zest and juice of two oranges

To prepare the salad:
Place a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the wheat berries, and cover them with water by about two inches. Simmer for about one hour, adding more water if necessary. The grains are done when they are just al dente; they should be split and look a bit like barley. Remove them from heat, strain, and rinse with cool water.

While the wheat berries are cooking, place the corn on a nonstick baking sheet and toss with half the olive oil. Put the corn in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Check every five minutes, shaking and stirring the corn to cook evenly. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanche the asparagus, removing it just as it becomes bright green (about two to five minutes). Drain and place immediately in an ice-water bath to shock. Blanche the edamame in the same fashion.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the rest of the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté for about one minute, then add the red bell pepper and cook for another minute. Add the edamame and cook for one minute. Add the roasted corn and asparagus and do the same. Add the cooked wheat berries and mix well to heat through. Add the remaining ingredients (reserving half the orange juice) and toss to combine flavors and warm through.

To prepare the cod:
Mix the fine herbs together. Season the cod filets with a few grinds of fresh black pepper and sea salt, then evenly distribute the herbs over the fish and pat to adhere. Lightly dust the filets with the whole wheat flour and pat again.

Place a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot (but not smoking), add the fish, herbed side down. Allow to cook for about three minutes, until it reaches a golden brown, shaking the pan a bit to prevent sticking. Carefully flip each filet and cook for another two to three minutes. Add a bit of the remaining orange juice to deglaze. Serve immediately.

On four dinner plates, evenly spoon out the warm salad and top with a cod filet. Finish with a drizzle of orange juice and some fresh micro-herbs for garnish.

Dunphy’s recipes follow the healthy food guidelines established by Boston University’s Sargent Choice program, a collaboration between dietitians at Sargent College’s Nutrition & Fitness Center and chefs at BU’s Dining Services.

Katie Koch can be reached at katieleekoch@gmail.com. Alan Wong can be reached at alanwong@bu.edu.

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