Grains have always been a staple in our kitchens. They’re healthy, hearty, and versatile, and they are a great source of protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates (the good kind!), vitamins, and antioxidants. To harness the wide varieties of grains, Cooking Light Executive Editor and James Bear Award-winning author, Ann Taylor Pittman has created a cookbook that spans from breakfasts, snacks, salads, sides and main dishes too! With Everyday Whole Grains, you not only learn about the benefits of whole grains, but how to prepare them in delicious recipes! We’re sharing some of our favorites – enjoy!

Any pickle would offer tangy little flavor bursts to chicken salad, but pickled grains one-up ordinary pickles by providing a unique chew and slightly nutty flavor. I like this best with pickled rye berries, but you can also use wheat berries, spelt, or Kamut.

Hands-on time: 10 minutes Total time: 35 minutes

Tarragon Chicken Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 1⁄3 cup 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup Pickled “Hard-Shell” Grains (see below)
  • 1/4 cup slivered red onion
  • 8 Bibb lettuce leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Fill a large skillet about two-thirds full with water; add bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Add chicken to pan; reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 14 minutes or until chicken is done, turning after 7 minutes. Remove chicken from pan; discard liquid and bay leaves. Cool chicken slightly; shred  with 2 forks.
  1. Combine yogurt and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add Pickled “Hard-Shell” Grains and onion; toss to coat. Add chicken; toss well to combine. Serve over lettuce leaves.

PICKLED “HARD-SHELL” GRAINS

This technique works best with what I refer to as “hard-shell” grains—those with a chewy, closed texture such as wheat berries, rye berries, spelt, and Kamut. Grains with a more “open” texture such as farro or barley take on so much brine that they lose their own nutty flavor.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ cups cider or white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf, preferably Turkish
  • 1 dried red chile (optional)
  • 1 cup cooked rye berries, hard winter wheat berries, spelt, or Kamut

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Add cooked grains; simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Let stand at least 1 hour before serving.
  3. Store, in brine, in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (flavor will intensify the longer it stands). Makes 1 cup drained grains

 

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CREDIT: From Everyday Whole Grains by Ann Taylor Pittman. For more stories like this one, visit our Food & Drink section! 

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