Wild Rice and Wheat Berry Salad with Chicken and Orange Dijon Vinaigrette

Wild Rice Wheat Berry Chicken Salad

I like a good grain salad, making me excessively trendy and also offering a lot of options for do-ahead meals that are good served at any temperature. This particular one has chicken, though it can be substituted with any protein, really, or none — it’s a good filling salad, between the rice and the wheat berries. The vinaigrette is exceedingly tasty (though do use a fresh orange — the zest is a super important component, and the fresh juice melds better with the other ingredients, I think), and adds quite a bit of flavor to what could otherwise be some exceedingly bland grains.

Speaking of grains, you could use just about any you’d like — you want to end up with 4-5 cups total. The original recipe called for just wheat berries, but I only had a cup left, and had a bag of wild rice that I wanted to try (I’ve never cooked with it before, or eaten it very much, even). Farro or quinoa or barley would also work, though I definitely liked the texture contrast of the rice and wheat berries. If you do use wheat berries, remember to toast them first! I forgot the first time I made this and the flavor difference is really incredible. Also they pop and it’s kind of fun as long as you can dodge the occasional flying wheat berry!

Wild Rice and Wheat Berry Salad with Chicken and Orange Dijon Vinaigrette (adapted from Manger à Trois)

Chicken and Marinade:
8ish chicken tenders
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
4-5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Pepper to taste

Non-Chicken Stuff:
1 c. wild rice
1 c. wheat berries
6 c. water, divided
1/2 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 medium red onion, diced fine
1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Vinaigrette:
Juice and zest of 1 orange
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced very fine
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. extra virgin olive oil

Marinate the chicken: Mix all the non-chicken stuff in that category thoroughly in a large zip-top bag. Add the chicken and squeeze out as much air as possible. Squish around. Marinate in the fridge for 2-8 hours.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the dry wheat berries. Toast, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes, until the berries are popping and threatening to leap out of the pan, are brown and smell all toasty. Dump them in a rice cooker with 2 cups of the water and a few good pinches of salt. Stir and let the cooker go on its merry cooking way.

Bring the remaining water, salted as though for pasta, to a boil in a large pot. Stir in the wild rice, bring it back to a boil, turn the heat to low, put a lid on and let it simmer for 45-50 minutes, or until it’s as tender as you want it. Drain it and fluff with a fork.

Make the vinaigrette: put all the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar. Put the lid on tightly and shake the stuffing out of it. Shake again before using, but it can hang out for now.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Put the chicken tenders on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through.

Chop all the things that need chopping. You can leave them in little heaps or mix them all together; it doesn’t matter. When the chicken is done, slice that up nice and small too.

Once all the grains are ready, mix them in a large bowl. Add all the other stuff and mix that in well too. Add half the vinaigrette and taste before adding more — I used the whole jar, but you might like things more subtle! Serve warm, at room temperature or cold (though the tomatoes suffer a little in the cold).

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~ by iliadawry on 21 June 2013.

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