Oven Roasted Mackerel and Wheat Berry Salad
Mackerel falls in the “oily” fish category which means certain wines, generally reds with tannin, clash to create a metallic taste. Stick to fresh whites with a bit of body like Albariño. This medium weight grape gives off a lovely perfume of stone fruit and citrus.
As fish populations dwindle and prices commensurately rise, chefs look for ethical and economical ways of keeping seafood in our diets. For now, one such fish is mackerel. High in omega-3s and vitamin B12, mackerel also delivers great value and is easy to master in the kitchen. To pair, skip the bland out-of-season salad greens and build a wheat berry side dish instead. Easy to cook, wheat berries offer delicious nutty flavor when tossed with a simple vinaigrette, but can be dressed up with almost any leftover vegetables in the fridge. Toss in nuts, dried fruits, olives, even cheese for more texture and complexity. Consider this recipe inspiration rather than a manual.
Serves 4; Total Time: 30 minutes
Wheat Berry Salad
1 cup of wheat berries (Might be labeled hard red winter wheat in the bulk section of a grocery. Also, be sure to get the whole variety, not “pearled.”)
3 cups of liquid, either chicken broth or water (or a mix)
1 small yellow onion, quartered
3 thyme sprigs
1 cup butternut squash, cooked and cut into bite-size chunks
3 red beets, cooked and cut into bite-size chunks
1 small red onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted
3 sprigs of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice (whatever is in your pantry)
1 pound of mackerel, fileted with skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered for serving
1. Spread wheat berries out on a sheet pan. Toast them in a preheated 375°F oven for ten minutes to increase nuttiness.
2. Add 3 cups of broth or water to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of wheat berries, quartered onion, and thyme sprigs. Lower to a simmer and cover. Cook about 40 minutes to an hour, checking for doneness. Wheat berries should be chewy but not hard.
3. Drain berries and transfer to a large bowl. Remove onion and thyme aromatics with tongs. Add squash, beets, red onion, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss together.
4. Prepare dressing by combining ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk well. Add to salad and toss.
5. Turn oven broiler to high. Place rack a third down from top. Allow oven to heat for five minutes. Grease a sheet pan with oil or butter. Place fish on pan skin side down. Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil on fish and gently rub in. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven and cook for 7-8 minutes, checking for doneness. Cook a few minutes longer, if required. Remove from oven and slice into four pieces. Transfer to plates. Divide wheat berry salad between plates and serve with lemon slices.