Tuesday, December 1, 2015

cranberry, chicken, and wheat berry salad

Awhile back I bought some wheat berries.  I'm always looking for something different to try and these were inexpensive, so I figured I would give them a shot.

What's a wheat berry?  Basically, it's the entire wheat kernel, minus the hull.  They're nutty tasting and chewy in texture, and take anywhere from 30 minutes to 50 minutes to cook.  You can use them in salads, main meals, or in breakfast dishes. 

So, this weekend I decided to finally try making them.  It was easy to do.  All you do is put them in a pot of water and bring it to a boil, then put the lid on and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  After that, you check them every 5 to 10 minutes for doneness.  Then you drain them and use them for whatever recipe you're making.  If you want to learn how to cook them, try this article from The Kitchn:  How to cook wheat berries.

I decided to make a chicken and wheat berry salad.  I found this recipe on the Cooking Light website:  Cherry, Chicken, and Pecan Salad.  Of course, I adapted it because I either didn't want to use an ingredient (arugula:  I'd heard it can be bitter and didn't want to waste my money if I didn't like it) or didn't have the right ingredient (goat cheese:  all I had on-hand was wasabi goat cheese; it actually worked quite well).  I also replaced the cherries with reduced-sugar dried cranberries; cherries aren't in season.  I wanted to substitute strawberries, but they were quite expensive, since they're also out of season.  Instead of fresh thyme, I used 1 tsp of dried thyme.

I was happy with the results, although I feel it would benefit from using either regular dried cranberries or fresh fruit, as it was a bit lacking on sweetness.  It needed a little more salt, too.  But overall I was happy with it and would make it again without hesitation.

Cranberry, Chicken, and Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 4 people


3 TB olive oil, divided
2 TB apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups cooked wheat berries (see link above for cooking the wheat berries)
1/4 cup pecan halves and pieces, toasted
6 ounces shredded skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp thyme
1/2 cup dried cranberries   
1 ounce baby spinach leaves   
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

  1. Combine 2 1/2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add wheat berries, nuts, and chicken; toss.  
  2. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and thyme; cook 3 minutes or until tender. Add to wheat berry mixture; toss. Stir in cranberries and spinach; toss. Sprinkle with cheese.


  1. I think you would like arugula. It's one of my favorite salad ingredients! I don't think it is bitter, but more peppery. If you happen to find some next spring at a farmer's market, pick some up! It is really good on pizza and also as a staple salad ingredient. Let me know what you think!

    1. I think I'll be brave and try it next time. In my store they sell it in a 5 Oz package and the salad only calls for an ounce, so I figured it would do to waste. As a pizza topping it sounds interesting!