What is Wild Rice?
Contrary to what you might naturally conclude, wild rice is actually not a grain. Though it looks like rice and is called wild rice, it is actually a grass that grows naturally in waterways in North America, especially around the Great Lakes region. These days wild rice is planted and grown in conditions to mimic its natural environment, but it doesn’t actually grow “wild”. It can be cooked in a manner similar to rice, although it takes significantly longer to become tender. When fully cooked, it has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture that makes it perfect for so many dishes, from stuffings, to soups to salads like this wild rice salad.
Where to buy Wild Rice
You should be able to find wild rice in the same aisle as long and short grain rices in your grocery store. It won’t be sold in large quantities because it tends to be more expensive than white or brown rice, so look for a smaller package.
How to Cook Wild Rice
Wild rice should be cooked in salted water until tender and chewy. I don’t bother with ratios of water to rice when cooking wild rice. Instead, I make sure there is enough water for the rice to absorb liquid, swell and burst a little. Then, strain away any excess water, return the rice to the pot with a clean kitchen towel on top, top it with the lid and let it steam for about 10 minutes. Fluff with a spoon and it’s done.
Vinaigrette for Wild Rice Salad
This earthy wild rice salad is complemented by a simple vinaigrette made with minced shallots, lemon juice and maple syrup, along with white wine vinegar and olive oil. The shallots give the vinaigrette a little bite – add as little or as much as you’d like – but it’s really the sweet maple syrup and bright acidic lemon juice that I think go so nicely with the wild rice.
Ingredients for Wild Rice Salad
This is a hearty salad full of leafy vegetables. Arugula, Belgian endive, bright and bitter radicchio all help to carry the wild rice in this mix. Crunchy celery, nutty pecans, sweet dried cherries and salty feta cheese make up the rest of the ingredient list.
Adjusting Ingredients for Wild Rice Salad
Of course, you should feel comfortable swapping things in and out of this list of ingredients. Try cranberries instead of the cherries, hazelnuts instead of the pecans, goat cheese instead of the feta cheese… make it your own.
How to Serve Wild Rice Salad
This salad is hearty enough to be called lunch all by itself or with a bowl of soup. It is also a really pleasant side salad for any dinner that you might be enjoying. I really like to serve this salad when the rice has just been cooked so that it is still a little warm, but it can actually hold over one day if you have leftovers.