You’ll remember that I’ve made a foray into the world of wheat berries before, without success. I’m not one to give up, so I took a second try last night, and it was a success. Wheat berries are something we should like – they’re whole, unprocessed wheat kernels – you can’t get any more “whole grain” than that. They’re high in fiber, protein and iron, and they’ve got a chewy texture and a nutty taste. This recipe, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, makes enough for 4 servings . . . which if you’re us, means that you can have it for lunch the next day.
Wheat Berry Salad (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)3 c. water 1 c. wheat berries ½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced ½ c. sweetened dried cherries, chopped 1 small scallion, chopped 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil 5 t. plus 4 t. Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (or another fruity vinegar) Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 4 c. lightly packed baby spinach leaves 1 recipe Cumin-Dusted Chicken (follows)
Combine the water and the wheat berries in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until tender, about 1 hour. Drain and let cool. (Note, this can be done ahead of time and the cooked berries can be stored in the fridge ‘til you’re ready to assemble the salad).
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a dry skillet, cool and chop.
In a large bowl, combine the wheat berries, toasted walnuts, celery, dried cherries, scallion, olive oil and 5 t. vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. This salad keeps up to 5 days in the fridge.
Cumin-Dusted Chicken (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)4 skinless chicken fillets or small boneless, skinless breasts (about 1¼ lbs.) 2 t. ground cumin Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper 2 t. extra-virgin olive oil Non-stick cooking spray
Rub the chicken with the olive oil, then sprinkle salt, pepper and cumin. Spray a large skillet (cast iron will give you a nice crust) with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Once pan is hot, add the chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 10 minutes each side. Remove from heat, let rest 5 minutes. Slice. The chicken will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.
Place 1 c. spinach leaves on each of 4 plates. Sprinkle each mound of spinach with 1 t. of the vinegar. Mound ¾ c. of the wheat berry salad on top of each serving and top that with slices of the chicken.