Jun 26, 2011

Wheat Berry Salad with Lemon Cumin Grilled Chicken

Wheat Berry Salad with Lemon Cumin Grilled Chicken

Each morning I watch the Today Show (I’m an avid fan and have been since I was in elementary school. Maybe a little weird for such a young kid but I have no real explanation for it!) Well, Mr. Al Roker and his little weather map have been showing extreme heat this summer! Just weird weather in general but I feel like the summer heat hit the south almost a month earlier than usual. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always hot come June but we usually don’t hit and stay in the 90s until July. June is coming to a close and I haven’t seen the day temp dip below 90, maybe high 80s, in weeks! We are in for such a long summer down here in Georgia! Maybe Al can work some weather man magic and send some of his cooler weather down here for a short reprieve!

In the mean time, we try to stick to lighter meals full of fresh flavor! They make you feel less sticky or like a rolly polly, which just automatically makes me feel more sticky! This grilled chicken and wheat berry salad is a great summer meal, although I actually think you could eat this any time of year, and as always, it’s Fast! If you have an outside grill available you actually can make a meal with limited oven or stove required, which can keep your place cooler during these hot summer days. However, if you’re trapped indoors by torrential down pour and thunder and lightening, right when it’s time to make dinner of course, you can use an indoor grill or even bake the chicken in the oven. The lemon and cumin on the chicken will still add great flavor no matter what way you decide to make it. You can also make the wheat berry part of the salad ahead of time, which makes the time to put dinner together that much shorter!

Here is what you’ll need:


(Adapted from So Easy by Ellie Krieger. Makes enough for 2 dinner portions with some leftover wheat berry salad for lunch.)


  • 1/2 cup hard wheat berries
  • 1/4 walnuts, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 scallion stalk, combination of white and green parts chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups Fresh Spinach leaves


  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Whether you are making the wheat berry salad ahead of time or right at dinner, you need to start by cooking the wheat berries. (I highly recommend just making this portion ahead of time to make things simpler after a long day!) In a medium-sized pot, add your wheat berries and enough water to cover about 2 inches above the wheat berries. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the wheat berries cook for about 1 hour, uncovered and by the end the wheat berries should be tender. The process is similar to cooking rice but you’ll notice that your wheat berries are much harder than a rice grain; hence the longer cooking time.

While the wheat berries are cooking on the stove, toast the walnuts in a toaster oven for a few minutes (or just in a small skillet on low heat). This will bring out the oils and great fragrance of the nut. This a good time to also go ahead and chop the celery and scallion.

Once the wheat berries are done cooking, drain them and add them to a mixing bowl. Toss in the celery, scallion, cranberries, walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Give everything a big mix and you’re done with this part! If you aren’t going to eat it right away, cover the bowl and keep refrigerated for up to five days.

The chicken is just as easy. Take the chicken breasts and place them between two pieces of plastic wrap and give them a good pound until they are about 1/2 inch thick. If it was a really bad day at work, this a great time to release some of that stress and pent up anger! In a small mixing bowl, combine the cumin, salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the chicken and then rub in the spice mixture on each side. Spray the grill or your inside grill pan with cooking spray and heat the grill to medium-high heat. Once heated up, cook the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes on each side and once completely cooked through let the chicken rest for just about five minutes. Cut the chicken any way you please, I just kept large slices, and then squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the chicken. The lemon and cumin combination are fantastic!

When you are ready to eat, lay down the spinach, pour on some of the wheat berry mixture and then place your chicken on the tip top! Super easy, super light and super delicious!

I think this dish would actually make a great lunch as well. You get so much protein and nutrients, I’m sure it’s a great lunch for the middle of the day blues! But, I can only speak from experience with dinners and it fills you plenty for that meal as well! This past semester of school was quite the challenge and there were some days where I would be on campus for 13+ hours and wouldn’t get home for dinner until about 9pm-9:30pm. At that point you almost are too tired and too hungry to even eat. But I’d make the wheat berry salad ahead of time, and Jordan would prepare the chicken closer to when I would get home and it was the perfect late night meal! Not too filling that I couldn’t fall asleep 2 hours later but also packed with all the nutrients you need after an exhausting day! Plus there were always leftovers from the wheat berry salad, which I was always a fan of the next day! So the moral for this dish, is it’s great for lunch or dinner, early or late; no matter what time of day, you’re sure to enjoy it! For now, that’s wheat berry salad with lemon cumin grilled chicken…in the shell of a nut!

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