I had an experimental dinner the other night. The version I made involved things like boiled over coconut milk that I have yet to fully get out of my stove, a miscellaneous assortment of leftover grains, and simultaneously burnt and raw chicken. But, surprisingly, the final product was pretty good. I'm going to tell you a bit about how I made it this time, but the recipe itself will be how I'm going to make it next time. Because I definitely will.
The whole idea came because I really wanted cold peanut noodles, but I'm trying to be healthy so wanted to bypass the noodle aspect of things. Instead, I arrived at a plan to use wheatberries cooked in coconut milk. I love wheat berries- they have a perfect texture for hearty grain salads. Unfortunately, I mis-read the internet, and cooked my wheat berries with a ratio of 4:1 liquid to grain rather than 2/2.5:1 which would have been better (hence the boiled over coconut milk). I also realized that I had a lot of extra liquid, so started adding bulgur (which cooks fast) on the fly. Either way, wheat berries have to cook a while so plan ahead. I then used a homemade peanut sauce, similar to this one. But later in the week, when I refreshed the leftovers a little, I realized the Trader Joes Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette (which is delicious) would have been fine.
So, here's what I came up with (which was really quite tasty)
And here is how I would do it next time:
Prepare ahead (or use leftovers):
-3/4c dried wheatberries, cooked in water and chilled (I get mine in the bulk grains area at Whole Foods; put about 2 c water in a pot with the wheat berries bring to to a boil, then simmer. The berries should become soft (but still a little chewy) and split a little. It can take an hour to cook them, or even more, so plan accordingly. You might need to add a little more water, so check on them).
-1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
-a small amount red onion, diced
-1/2 bell pepper coarsely chopped
-one large chicken breast, cooked, chopped
-bonus points for cilantro and chives
Toss all of it with Trader Joes Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette (or the home made peanut sauce below), chill. Enjoy! Makes great leftovers to take to lunch.
Yum! You could make it veggie by just omitting the chicken, or could add marinated tofu, although it would have to be really firm and probably pressed first in order to stand up, because this is not a delicate salad.
Peanut Sauce (slightly different than version for noodles, because more volume was needed as the grains will absorb some of it; all amounts are approximate- adjust it to your taste)
1/4c peanut butter (briefly microwaved, to soften and help convince it to mix with the other ingredients)
2T soy sauce
4T seasoned rice wine vinegar
.5T sesame oil
.5T spicy chili oil
red pepper flakes
diced ginger (1tsp or more)
diced garlic (1 tsp)