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Carrie Havranek

writer-editor-cook-baker

Chicken, Wheatberry and Avocado Salad

carrie

Jessica, Laini, Kate: thanks for asking for this recipe. I haven't blogged savory stuff in a while and I'm way overdue. Anyone who encourages me to share is a-ok in my book. And welcome to anyone else who stumbles upon this corner of the world. First, a word about the inspiration. I adapted this recipe from Food and Wine for chicken and bulgur salad with avocado. This is an older recipe that was published in a short collection of super fast recipes, under 30 minutes, that I got because I recently subscribed to the magazine and bought one of its cookbooks. I liked this because a. there was a lovely photo and b. it includes things I typically have in my kitchen or usually buy, so it came together pretty effortlessly. I also figured the bright citrus dressing would feel right for spring, appeal to the boys, and get me in the mood for a summer of farmers' market recipe testing. And it did.

If you want to use bulgur, see the recipe as it was initially written. I used wheatberries because I had about 2 cups of them in my freezer that I defrosted. (They had long been waiting for their assigned duty: I'd been making a dish with broccoli and wheatberries pretty regularly and needed a break). You can also easily veganize this recipe by using either white beans or chickpeas instead of bulgur and/or if you wanted a legume instead of a grain. Food and Wine calls for two 6-ounce chicken breasts with skin on; I don't often find chicken for under a pound at Wegmans when I am buying the organic, skinless and boneless variety, so I used that and changed the amounts accordingly. If it's too much chicken for your liking, cut one of them in half after it cools and set it aside for another use.  I reduced the temperature from the recipe's instructions because I used skinless chicken. Additionally, my husband doesn't like fennel (shame!), not even sliced thinly and tossed in a salad like this, so I don't often buy it or cook with it. Instead, I added cucumber because I had it (an anomaly for my April-May kitchen) and thought the cool-crisp-crunch would suffice. You can certainly omit those ingredients and do it the way it was written; my version can probably benefit from some editing, just like writing.

I just realized this would also be delicious with shrimp. See, I need to stop!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of boneless chicken breasts (skinless or not), rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 T grapeseed oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup shredded basil
  • 5 T fresh lemon juice (about juice of one lemon)
  • 2-3 large scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 avocados, cut into cubes (I used one)
  • 1 tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, sliced and quartered

Instructions

  1. Prepare your grain of choice by following the directions on the package.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450. Coat the chicken with 1 T of grapeseed oil and salt and pepper it generously. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, checking about halfway through and flipping them halfway through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Slice thinly on a diagonal, about 1/4 inch thick; because I was feeding children (when am I not?!), I cut the slices into smaller chunks so no one needed a knife.
  3. While the chicken does its thing, prep the veggies and other ingredients.
  4. Whisk together the orange juice, scallions, lemon and basil with the 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil. (Note: you want something neutral here. Please don't use EVOO because its fruitiness will compete with the citrus). Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, avocado, wheatberries, tomatoes, and cukes with the vinaigrette. Season again with salt and pepper, and pile onto plates.

Serves 4-6, depending on appetite. In my house, it was shared by me, John, my dad, and the boys, with about 1-2 cups of it left over for lunch. We ate it with homemade multigrain sourdough bread.

If you make this, I'd love to hear how you adapted it, if at all.