My dear friend Stephanie is celebrating a milestone birthday this week! In honor of her, I'm featuring one of her "signature recipes," adapted for the mason jar. It's a sweet-savory salad featuring a unique combination of ingredients, hearty whole grains, a triple-dose of protein, and copious amounts of her daughter's favorite leafy green, baby spinach. Happy Birthday, Steph!
YIELD: 4 quart-sized salads
- 1/2 c wheatberries
- 1/2 c pearl barley
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 small red onion, minced
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled or roasted, cooled, and diced
- 1/2 c sweetened, dried cranberries
- 4 oz smoked mozzarella, diced
- 1 large cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 1/4 c chopped chives
- 8 oz baby spinach
- 1/2 c roasted slivered almonds
- Make the marinaded wheatberries: bring a small pan of water to a boil. Add the wheatberries and boil gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pearl barley and continue boiling for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the grains, rinse well under cool water, and drain again. Combine the garlic, salt, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil in a pint-sized mason jar. Puree and emulsify the dressing using a handheld stick blender. (Alternately, puree and emulsify the dressing ingredients using a blender or mini food processor.) Combine the cooked grains, dressing, and minced red onion.
- Pack the salads: divide the marinaded wheat berries evenly between 4 tall quart-sized containers. Layer the chicken, dried cranberries, mozzarella, cucumber, green onions, chives, and spinach in the jars. Divide the almonds evenly among 4 2-ounce jars or snack-size zip-top bags for each salad. Refrigerate until serving.
- Enjoy your salad: invert your salad onto a plate or into a bowl, and top with almonds.
TIME-SAVING TIPS: Use rotisserie chicken in place of the grilled or roasted chicken breasts.
SPECIAL DIET SWAPS: For a vegetarian salad, omit the chicken. For a vegan salad, omit the chicken and substitute smoked tofu for the smoked mozzarella. For a gluten-free salad, substitute 2 cups prepared quinoa for the wheatberry/barley mixture. For a nut-free salad, substitute roasted sunflower seeds for the almonds.
Food styling, photography, and infographics by Robert Campbell.