Mexican Wheat Berry Salad with Chipotles and Toasted Walnuts

A deliciously flavorful, vibrant and healthy whole grain Mexican Wheat Berry Salad recipe laced with smoky chipotles, tangy cheese, and a sweet & savory vinaigrette!  This salad packs in several fiber- and vitamin-rich vegetables, protein/fiber rich wheat berries, iron-rich raisins, protein-rich walnuts, and olive oil which is packed full of healthy omega fats.  It’s both nutritious and delicious!

For more delicious wheat berry salads be sure to try my Asian Wheat Berry Salad, Crunchy Wheat Berry Salad, and Greek Wheat Berry Salad!

Mexican Wheat Berry Salad recipe chipotles corn tomatoes cheese walnuts raisins carrots onions vinaigrette

Perhaps you can relate – in my experience, too often healthy grain salads just lack flavor.  Too often they’re just plain…plain.  Boring.   And it doesn’t have to be that way.

Healthy doesn’t have to be bland and flavorless.  It can be bold and adventurous.  And that’s just what this salad offers.  It’s BIG on healthy ingredients and it’s BIG on flavor!

Sweet, spicy, tangy, and smoky combine to give this salad enough layers of flavor to keep your taste buds entertained the whole dish through.

Enjoy this salad as a side or a light entree.  And it’s perfect for taking to work for lunch!

Don’t like wheat berries?  Substitute any whole grain of your choice.  For example, quinoa.  If you like barley or brown rice, try that instead.  And though it’s not a grain, another great alternative would be couscous.

The idea for this salad was inspired by Aida Mollenkamp’s recipe on California Walnuts’ website.  I’ve changed things up quite a bit to suit my own taste, adding several more ingredients for variety, flavor, color and texture and have ramped up the flavor.

Mexican Wheat Berry Salad recipe chipotles corn tomatoes cheese walnuts raisins carrots onions vinaigrette

Best Wheat Berries For Salads

There are both soft wheat and hard wheat varieties.  For making salads you’ll want to use soft wheat berries.  You can find them in bulk sections of the grocery store, in health food stores, or you can buy them online.

How to Cook Wheat Berries

To cook wheat berries for using in salads you’ll first want to rinse the wheat berries.  And while they can be cooked in water, I like to cook them in vegetable broth for the added flavor.  Add the vegetable broth to a pot with some salt and bring it to a boil.  Add the wheat berries, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30-40 minutes until soft but still chewy.  Don’t overcook.  As with pasta, you still want it to have a little bit of “bite”.  Drain the wheat berries and let them cool.  This can be done well in advance.

bag of wheat berries

And now with those cooked wheat berries ready to go, it’s time to make some salad!  Specifically, let’s roll up those sleeves and make some fabulous Mexican Wheat Berry Salad with Chipotles and Toasted Walnuts!

Mexican Wheat Berry Salad recipe chipotles corn tomatoes cheese walnuts raisins carrots onions vinaigrette

Mexican Wheat Berry Salad Recipe

Let’s get started!

Chop and prepare all the ingredients so they’re ready to combine when the time comes.

To make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until emulsified.

To toast the walnuts, preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake 8 to 10 minutes, checking frequently to prevent burning. Let cool completely.

recipe ingredients and vinaigrette

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the onions until golden brown.  Add the cumin and cook for another minute.

Add the carrots and salt and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened.

Add the fresh thyme, oregano and chopped chipotles and cook for another 2 minutes.  Let cool.

cooking the onions and carrots and adding seasonings

In a large mixing bowl, combine the wheat berries, carrot mixture, cheese, cherry tomatoes, raisins, toasted walnuts and corn. Stir to combine.

Note:  For the cheese, I used queso para freir, a firm and tangy Mexican whole milk cheese (found in Latino grocery stores), but you can use Monterey jack instead.

ingredients in a large bowl

Pour the vinaigrette over the mixture and stir to thoroughly combine.

pouring over the vinaigrette

Stir in the green onions and fresh cilantro or parsley.

adding green onions and cilantro

Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Best served at room temperature.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Mexican Wheat Berry Salad recipe chipotles corn tomatoes cheese walnuts raisins carrots onions vinaigrette

Enjoy!

Mexican Wheat Berry Salad recipe chipotles corn tomatoes cheese walnuts raisins carrots onions vinaigrette

Originally published on The Daring Gourmet June 7, 2014

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