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Chipotle and Toasted Walnut Wheat-Berry Salad
Chipotle and Toasted Walnut Wheat-Berry Salad Photo courtesy of Jake Gartland

Cookbook author and television host Aida Mollenkamp calls her cooking style West Coast eclectic. On the plate that translates into seasonal, locally sourced meals with a hint of cross-cultural flavor. Take this simple wheat-berry salad: Walnuts contribute crunch, golden raisins add sweetness and toothsome wheat berries (which are actually ricelike grains) provide a welcome chew. But it’s the unexpected addition of smoky chipotles en adobo that makes the dish pop.

Makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings (about 6 cups)

Kosher salt

2 cups soft wheat berries, rinsed

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 2 cups)

1 teaspoon thyme leaves, finely chopped

1 finely chopped chipotle en adobo (about 1 tablespoon), plus 1 teaspoon chipotle en adobo sauce

1 cup toasted walnut halves, roughly chopped

½ cup golden raisins

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

3 scallions, light-green and green parts only, thinly sliced

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1. Fill a medium saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the wheat berries, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until tender but still chewy, about 40 minutes. Drain the wheat berries and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool slightly.

2. In a medium skillet set over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and a pinch of salt and cook until the carrots are barely softened and still retain some bite, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the thyme, chipotle and chipotle sauce and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the reserved wheat berries with the onion-carrot mixture, the walnuts and the raisins. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with the vinegar and honey until combined. Pour the dressing over the wheat-berry mixture and mix until just combined.

4. Let the salad marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Stir in the scallions and parsley. Season to taste with salt, then serve.

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