Spicy Chicken and Spelt Salad Recipe

Spelt is an ancient grain known for its nutty flavor and nutritional value. It’s rich in fiber, protein, and essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, and zinc. Often used as an alternative to wheat, spelt is easier to digest due to its lower gluten content. Many health enthusiasts incorporate spelt into their diets to enjoy its health benefits.

The Appeal of Spicy Chicken

Spicy chicken brings a burst of flavor and excitement to any meal. The combination of spices enhances the taste of the chicken, making it more enjoyable. Capsaicin, found in chili peppers, adds heat and offers various health benefits. It can boost metabolism, improve digestion, and provide anti-inflammatory properties. Spicy chicken adds an irresistible kick to the salad, balancing the nutty spelt and creating a delicious, nutritious dish.

Key Ingredients and Substitutions

Must-Have Ingredients

Your Spicy Chicken and Spelt Salad requires core ingredients to achieve its signature taste and nutritional benefits. Start with the following essentials:

  • Chicken Breast: Use 10-12 oz of boneless, skinless chicken breast for a lean protein source.
  • Spelt: Include 1 cup of cooked spelt to provide fiber and a nutty flavor.
  • Chili Powder and Paprika: Combine 1-2 teaspoons each of chili powder and paprika for a robust, spicy kick.
  • Olive Oil: Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil for cooking and salad dressing.
  • Mixed Greens: Use 4 cups of mixed greens like spinach, arugula, or kale to provide vitamins and minerals.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: Toss in 1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes for a burst of sweetness and color.
  • Cucumber: Chop 1 medium cucumber for a refreshing crunch.
  • Red Onion: Slice 1/2 medium red onion thinly for a mild, sharp flavor.

Possible Ingredient Substitutions

You can customize the Spicy Chicken and Spelt Salad using alternative ingredients while maintaining its delicious and nutritious qualities:

  • Chicken Alternatives: Swap chicken breast with 10-12 oz of grilled tofu or chickpeas for a vegetarian option.
  • Spelt Substitutes: Replace spelt with 1 cup of quinoa or farro if unavailable.
  • Spice Variations: Substitute chili powder and paprika with cayenne pepper or ground cumin to adjust the spice level.
  • Oil Options: Use avocado oil or coconut oil instead of olive oil to change the flavor profile.
  • Greens Variety: Opt for romaine lettuce or Swiss chard if you prefer different greens.
  • Tomato Types: Use diced Roma tomatoes or grape tomatoes if cherry tomatoes aren’t available.
  • Crispiness Alternatives: Include bell peppers or jicama instead of cucumber for a different crunch.
  • Onion Choices: Replace red onion with shallots or green onions for a milder taste.

These substitutions give you flexibility while preserving the essence of the Spicy Chicken and Spelt Salad, ensuring it remains flavorful and balanced.

Cooking Techniques for the Perfect Salad

Handling Spelt

Spelt requires rinsing under cold water to remove debris. Place the rinsed spelt in a pot, adding water in a 3:1 ratio; for instance, use 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of spelt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes until the grains are tender. Drain any excess water and let the spelt cool before adding it to your salad. This ensures the spelt retains its firm texture without becoming mushy.

Cooking Chicken to Perfection

For juicy, flavorful chicken, start by marinating the chicken breasts. Combine chili powder, paprika, and olive oil in a bowl, coating the chicken evenly. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken breasts for 6-7 minutes on each side, ensuring they reach an internal temperature of 165°F. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing it thinly. This technique locks in the juices, enhancing the overall taste of your salad.

Nutritional Benefits

Health Benefits of Spelt

Spelt, an ancient grain, delivers numerous health advantages. It’s high in dietary fiber, which supports digestion and helps maintain a healthy gut. A serving of spelt provides essential vitamins and minerals—particularly manganese, phosphorus, and niacin. These nutrients boost energy levels, support bone health, and enhance cellular functions. With a lower glycemic index, spelt stabilizes blood sugar levels, making it suitable for those managing diabetes.

Nutrition from a Spicy Chicken

Spicy chicken, an excellent protein source, aids muscle repair and growth. Chicken breast, a lean meat, is rich in essential nutrients like B vitamins, which play crucial roles in metabolism and energy production. The spices used—such as chili powder and paprika—can offer additional health benefits. Capsaicin in chili powder has anti-inflammatory properties and can boost metabolism. Paprika is a source of antioxidants, which protect against oxidative stress and can bolster the immune system.

Both the spelt and spicy chicken form the cornerstone of a balanced, nutritious meal, offering diverse and complementary health benefits.

Serving Suggestions

Ideal Pairings

Pairing Spicy Chicken and Spelt Salad with complementary sides enhances the dining experience. Grilled vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and asparagus work well, adding variety and color to your plate. A dollop of Greek yogurt on the side provides a cooling contrast to the spicy chicken. Serving whole-grain bread or pita offers added texture and can be used to scoop the salad. For a refreshing touch, consider a citrus-based vinaigrette on mixed greens.

Presentation Tips

Presenting Spicy Chicken and Spelt Salad attractively can elevate the meal. Use a large, shallow bowl to showcase the salad’s vibrant colors and textures. Place spelt at the base, layering spicy chicken and vegetables on top for visual appeal. Garnish with fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley for a pop of green. Sprinkling toasted seeds or nuts over the salad adds crunch and a gourmet touch. Use high-quality utensils and neutral-toned plates to keep the focus on your vibrant dish.


Creating a Spicy Chicken and Spelt Salad is a delicious way to enjoy a nutritious meal that’s packed with flavor and texture. With the right serving suggestions and presentation tips, you can elevate this dish to a restaurant-quality experience at home. Pair it with complementary sides and use high-quality utensils to make your meal both visually appealing and satisfying. Enjoy the blend of spicy, crunchy, and fresh elements in every bite!

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