Chicken wheatberry salad

Cook up a big batch of your favorite grain and you can add it to a taco, toss it in a green salad, or eat it for breakfast with brown sugar and milk.

In Praise of Leftovers
You can easily leave the chicken out of this chicken wheatberry salad if you're a vegetarian, and sub brown rice or quinoa. Dried cranberries, feta cheese, and pumpkin seeds add extra flavor and crunch.

Have I devoted some space to my beloved pressure cooker here yet? If not, it's high time. I love that big, hulking thing. I got it at a garage sale last summer. Otherwise, I'm not sure I would have paid the $150. It takes up a lot of cupboard space, and I probably only use it 3 or 4 times a month. But if you eat a lot of beans and grains and you trip over a cheap one, grab it.

Soaked beans (pinto, navy, black) take 15 minutes to cook, and things like barley and wheatberries take 20 (instead of 50 or 60!). The steam is mighty loud and you shouldn't be doing 50 other things at the same time you're clicking the safety lid into place. Safety first in my kitchen. Not only do things cook quickly in a pressure cooker, but they stay perfectly separate – nothing sticking together or getting mushy. Dreamy.

I'll often cook up a big batch of grain, use some of it right away, then put the rest in a Ziploc bag in the fridge. Then I can add a handful of barley or brown rice to a taco, toss it in a green salad, or eat it for breakfast with brown sugar and milk.

For Monday night dinner with my parents we went on a sunset picnic, and my goal was to make dinner without going to the grocery store. One peek in my fridge and you'll see this isn't that hard in my house. It's always stuffed to its poor little gills with bits of this and that. I always have various grains in the pantry, usually chicken in the freezer, and bins of vegetables waiting for attention. This is a great one-dish meals, and leftovers can be packed in lunches the next day.

Wheatberry Chicken Salad
Serves 6 as a main course. You can easily leave the chicken out of this salad if you're veggie, and sub brown rice or quinoa if you're gluten free. And don't let not having a pressure cooker keep you from making it. A big vat of boiling water works just as well.

For dressing:
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions

For salad:
2 cup wheatberries (or other favorite grain)
Shredded, cooked meat from 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I roasted mine in the oven)
Several handfuls fresh, washed spinach leaves
2 large carrots, peeled and grated into large shreds with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Large handful fresh whole basil leaves
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

To make dressing, combine all ingredients except for cranberries and onions and whisk, adding more of anything to taste. Drop cranberries and onions in, stir, and let marinate while you make the rest of the salad.

Cook wheatberries according to pressure cooker instructions OR in a big stockpot with lots of boiling, salted water. (If you don't put enough water, they'll stick together.) If you boil them, they'll take about 50 minutes until they're tender. Either way you cook them, drain them in a colander when they're done, rinse them with cold water, and drain again, shaking the colander to remove excess water.

Combine cooked wheatberries with all the other ingredients except pumpkin seeds, mixing gently with your hands. Pour dressing over, again using your hands to mix the salad and coat everything. Top salad with pumpkin seeds and serve room temperature or cold.

Related post: Rice and Bean Salad

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