Some years ago, after years of studying old Scandinavian and New Nordic cooking, it hit me: A reason why Nordic cooking makes so much sense to me was not just because of my heritage and family culture, but also my setting.
The ecstasy at the first sight of rhubarb in the spring, the enthusiastic berry picking in the summer, foraging for mushrooms in the fall—not to mention the bounty of fresh seafood—the staples of Nordic food culture mirrors what is available and celebrated in the Pacific Northwest.
A Nordic diet incorporates a lot of grain salads and a large ratio of vegetables to red meat, and that’s where this recipe comes in. It’s a riff on a recipe I created for The Oregonian some years ago to accompany my article on the parallels between the food of Scandinavia and the Pacific Northwest.
I’d suggest serving this with a simply grilled salmon, plus dill-tossed potatoes and a classic Scandi cucumber salad for a complete taste of the Scandinavian side of the Pacific Northwest with a modern touch. (And a shot of aquavit wouldn’t be out of the question.)
Rinse the rye berries, then place in a medium saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, then cover and simmer until tender, about one hour. Drain any excess water, then cool the cooked grains to room temperature and transfer to a large bowl.
In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until it glistens. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes, then transfer to a bowl and set aside. Using the same pan, briefly toast the almonds over medium heat, then roughly chop.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and salt, then slowly whisk in the walnut oil. Pour the dressing over the cooled rye berries and toss to coat, then add the sautéed mushrooms, half of the almonds, all of the strawberries and dill, and toss gently to combine. Top with the crumbled goat cheese and the remaining almonds. Serve at room temperature.
Rye berries are available in the bulk bin section of many groceries. Substitute another grain, such as farro or wheat berries, if you wish, adjusting cooking time as needed.