asparagus salad with wheat berries, snap peas, cucumber, radish and feta, in a white bowl with a silver spoon

Asparagus Salad with Wheat Berries: an Easy Vegetarian Spring Meal

Spring has sprung, and what better way to celebrate the season’s bounty than with a vibrant, nutritious salad that sings with freshness? Today, I’m thrilled to share a recipe that’s a true ode to spring – an Asparagus Salad with Wheat Berries, Snap Peas, Cucumber, and Radishes. This dish combines the crisp, fresh flavors of the season with the hearty, nourishing touch of whole grains.

Why You’ll Love This Asparagus Salad

  • Seasonal Freshness: Each bite of this salad is a reminder of the beauty of eating seasonally. The asparagus, snap peas, and radishes, all stars of the spring garden, bring their peak flavors and nutritional benefits to this dish. There’s something incredibly satisfying about enjoying produce that’s been picked at its prime.
  • A Nutritional Powerhouse: This isn’t just a feast for your taste buds but a boon for your health too. Wheat berries, the whole, unprocessed kernels of wheat, are a fantastic source of fiber, protein, and essential minerals. Combine that with the vitamins and antioxidants from our spring veggies, and you’ve got a meal that’s as good for you as it tastes.
  • Ancient Grains, Modern Flavors: Wheat berries might sound like something straight out of a history book, but they’re making a comeback in contemporary kitchens. Their chewy texture and nutty flavor add an incredible depth to salads, making every forkful interesting and satisfying.
  • Texture and Flavor Harmony: The real magic of this Asparagus Salad with Wheat Berries lies in its combination of textures and flavors. The crunch of snap peas, the juiciness of cucumber, the tender bite of asparagus, and the chewiness of wheat berries create a symphony in your mouth. Paired with a zesty dressing that ties all these flavors together, this salad is a celebration of spring in every bite.

Ingredients for this Colorful Spring Salad Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need to make this Asparagus Salad:

ingredients for asparagus salad with wheat berries
  • Wheat Berries: This whole grain add a chewy texture and nutty flavor to the dish, while offering a rich source of fiber, protein, and essential minerals like iron and manganese.
  • Asparagus: This spring vegetable brings a crisp, slightly sweet flavor and is loaded with fiber, vitamins A, C, E, K, and folate, supporting overall health and immune function.
  • Snap Peas: Snap peas add a crunchy texture and a burst of sweetness, along with vitamin C, iron, and fiber, aiding in digestion and overall wellness.
  • Cucumber: Known for its hydrating properties, cucumber adds freshness and crunch, plus it’s a good source of vitamin K, which is important for bone health.
  • Radishes: These offer a peppery kick and crunchy texture, along with vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants that help fight inflammation and support heart health.
  • Fresh Italian Parsley: This herb not only adds a fresh, vibrant flavor but is also rich in vitamins A, C, and K, supporting eye health, immune function, and bone health.
  • Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice: Zesty and tangy, lemon juice adds acidity to the dressing while providing vitamin C, aiding in iron absorption and boosting the immune system.
  • Shallot: Shallots contribute a mild, sweet flavor similar to onions but with a hint of garlic. They contain antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and B6.
  • Dijon Mustard: Adds depth and tanginess to the dressing.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This heart-healthy fat enhances the salad’s flavors, contributes to satiety, and offers antioxidants and vitamin E, supporting heart health.
  • Salt and Pepper: The essentials to enhance the natural flavors of the other ingredients, with black pepper also aiding with nutrient absorption.
  • Feta Cheese: Adds a creamy texture and tangy flavor, along with calcium and protein, contributing to bone health and muscle function.

How to Choose your Asparagus

We are not cooking the asparagus in this recipe. Choosing fresh asparagus is therefore crucial to ensure the best flavor and texture for your asparagus salad. Here are a few simple yet effective tips:

  1. Look for Bright Green Color: Fresh asparagus spears should have a rich, vibrant green color. The tips might have a purplish hue, which is also a sign of freshness.
  2. Check the Tips: The tips of the asparagus should be closed and compact. Avoid asparagus with tips that are starting to spread open or look mushy, as this indicates they are past their prime.
  3. Inspect the Stalks: Fresh asparagus stalks should be firm and straight. Avoid any spears that appear wrinkled or bend easily, as they may be old and tough.
  4. Feel the Texture: The spears should feel smooth and firm to the touch, not limp or rubbery.
  5. Sniff for Freshness: Fresh asparagus should have a clean, slightly earthy smell. Any sour or unpleasant odors suggest the asparagus is no longer fresh.
  6. Size Matters: The thickness of the asparagus doesn’t necessarily indicate freshness, but it can affect cooking time and texture. For salads, you might prefer thinner spears for their tender texture.
  7. Check the Cut Ends: The cut ends of the asparagus should look freshly cut and not too dried out. Some drying is normal, but excessively dry or shriveled ends mean the asparagus has been sitting out for a while.

Once you’ve selected your asparagus, store it properly in the refrigerator by trimming the ends and placing the stalks upright in a container with some water, covering them loosely with a plastic bag until you’re ready to use them.

asparagus stalks in a glass jar with water

What Are Wheat Berries?

No, wheat berries are not a fruit. They are the whole kernel of wheat, which is a type of cereal grain. The wheat kernel consists of three main parts: the bran, germ, and endosperm. When wheat is harvested and processed, the wheat berry contains all three parts intact, making it a whole grain. It is commonly used in cooking and baking for its nutritional value and hearty texture.

Commonly found varieties are Hard Red Winter Wheat, Hard Red Spring Wheat, or Soft White Wheat. However, there are also other ancient wheat options suitable for recipes.

  1. Einkorn: The oldest wheat known, prized for its nutritional benefits and simpler genetic structure that makes it potentially easier to digest. It’s rich in essential minerals and antioxidants.
  2. Kamut®: Also known as Khorasan wheat, is an ancient grain with a rich, buttery flavor. It’s larger than modern wheat and boasts higher levels of proteins, lipids, and many minerals.
  3. Spelt: Also known as farro grande or “big farro” in Italy, this ancient wheat variety once took a backseat to high-yielding modern wheat varieties. However, it’s now making a comeback in popularity. Spelt flour is gaining traction in baking circles, prized for its delicious flavor and adaptability in recipes.
  4. Farro: Farro refers to several types of wheat, including spelt, emmer, and einkorn. It’s important to note that most farro sold in stores is pearled, removing some of the grain’s outer layers and thus, not considered a whole grain. Only hulled farro retains its status as a whole grain.

The choice of wheat berries ultimately depends on your personal preference and availability where you live.

For everything you want to know about wheat and wheat berries, check out the Whole Grain Council’s website! It’s a wealth of information.

How to Cook Wheat Berries

Here are two fool-proof methods to get the perfect chewy grain every time.

  1. Stove top “Pasta Method”. Begin by rinsing the wheat berries under cold water to remove any debris. Then, bring a pot of water to a boil, using a ratio of about 3 cups of water for every cup of wheat berries. Add a teaspoon of salt if you wish. Once boiling, add the wheat berries to the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow them to cook uncovered for 30 minutes if using soft wheat, or 45 minutes for hard wheat. Check for doneness and continue boiling as needed for up to 15 minutes longer, or until they are tender but still chewy. When you have achieved the desired texture, drain in a colander and return to the pot to finish drying.
  2. Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot Method. This is a great time saving option. Combine 1 cup of wheat berries with 3 cups of cold water in the pressure cooker. Add a pinch of salt to enhance the flavor if you like. Seal the pressure cooker and set it to high pressure. Cook for about 20 minutes for soft wheat or 30 minutes for hard wheat, then allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes before manually releasing any remaining pressure. Be careful to avoid any hot steam! Once the pressure is fully released, open the lid carefully. There might be some excess water, so drain the wheat berries in a colander.

Additionally, pre-cooked whole grains like farro or Kamut® are available in the freezer or rice aisle for quick microwave or stovetop preparation.

Cooked wheat berries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days or frozen for longer storage. Ensure they are cooled and stored in an airtight container. To expedite the cooling process, spread them out onto a baking sheet as described in this post.

cooked wheat berries in plastic containers

Additional Tips for Cooking Wheat Berries

  • Wheat berries are easy to cook, but cooking times can vary widely based on the type you buy, the exact texture you prefer, as well as your specific pressure cooker model if you use that method.
  • If the package you bought comes with cooking instructions, I recommend you follow these! If you opt for the Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot method, it’s always a good idea to start with the manufacturer’s guidelines as well.
  • Contrary to popular belief, wheat berries do not require an overnight soak before cooking. Do, however rinse them thoroughly under cold water to remove any dust or debris before cooking.
  • Optional Toasting: For added flavor, you can toast the wheat berries on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for about 10 minutes before boiling. This step is optional but can enhance their nutty flavor.

How to Prepare Your Asparagus Salad:

Now that you’ve mastered the art of cooking wheat berries, time to put together this easy spring salad.

  1. Create the Dressing: Start by whisking together Dijon mustard, finely chopped shallots, fresh lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste until the mixture is well emulsified.
  2. Prep the Veggies: Trim the asparagus spears and cut them into 1-inch pieces. De-string snap peas if necessary and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice both radishes and cucumber.
  3. Combine: Add the prepared asparagus, snap peas, radishes, and cucumber to the bowl with the dressing. Introduce wheat berries and parsley to the mix and toss gently, ensuring the dressing evenly coats all the ingredients.
  4. Serve: Just before serving, sprinkle crumbled feta cheese over the salad for that final touch of flavor and creaminess.
  5. Store: This salad will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. It makes a great to-go lunch!

Making It Your Own

One of the best things about this asparagus salad is its versatility. Feel free to swap out ingredients based on availability or preference. Add grilled chicken or chickpeas for extra protein, or play around with different dressings to find your perfect match. The possibilities are endless!

asparagus salad with wheat berries, snap peas, cucumber, radish and feta, in a white bowl

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asparagus salad with wheat berries, snap peas, cucumber, radish and feta, in a white bowl
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5 from 3 votes

Asparagus Salad with Wheat Berries

Celebrate spring with this fresh asparagus salad recipe! Packed with crisp vegetables, wheat berries, and a zesty homemade dressing, it's the perfect easy vegetarian spring meal or side dish.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Veronique Eichler



  • Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl: Dijon mustard, finely chopped shallots, fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, along with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  • Whisk everything together until emulsified.
  • Prepare the asparagus by cutting off the fibrous bottom ends. Chop the spears into 1-inch segments and add them to your mixing bowl.
  • Remove any fibrous strings from the snap peas. Chop them into bite-sized pieces and incorporate them into the bowl.
  • Thinly slice the radishes and cucumber, adding these to the mix as well.
  • Add wheat berries and parsley to the bowl and gently toss everything together, ensuring the vegetables are evenly coated with the dressing.
  • Finish the salad by sprinkling crumbled feta cheese over the top before serving.


  • This recipe makes 4 servings as a side dish or 2 servings as a whole meal. Nutrition data provides is for 1/4 of the recipe (4 servings).
  • For a vegan option, just omit the feta cheese.
  • For instructions on how to cook and store wheat berries, refer to the full post above.
  • Store leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.


Nutrition Facts
Asparagus Salad with Wheat Berries
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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