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For the Holidays, a Rice Salad with the Colors of the Season Posted by on Dec 22, 2016 in Culture

I like to entertain for the holiday season. I have hosted Christmas at my house for many years, usually have at least one holiday party, and may find myself cooking for other gatherings as well. Of all the things I serve, one recipe invariably gets shared with friends – my holiday wild rice salad.

Wild rice is, in fact, not rice at all. It is a water-grass seed which, when dried and hulled, is quite dark and possesses a nutty, almost smoky flavor. In the United States, wild rice is grown along the cold rivers and lakes of Minnesota and Wisconsin. It was a staple of Native American diets for tribes like the Ojibwa or Chippewa, who call it manoomin. The preferred method of harvesting and curing the grain is largely unchanged from tribal customs dating back hundreds of years. While high in fiber and protein, it is an extremely low-yield grain. If an acre of white rice may produce up to 5000 pounds of product, an acre of wild rice may yield only about 150 pounds of product.

This recipe combines wild rice with brown and red rice, which are starches, like the traditional white rice. Whereas white rice has the bran and germ of the rice removed, only the outer layer, or husk, is removed from brown rice. Red rice is unhulled. All three – wild, brown, and red – are nutty in flavor, and far more nutritious than ordinary white rice. For all the indulgences you may partake of during the holidays, you can reassure yourself that at least this salad is good for you. It won’t make the extra slice of cheesecake or sticky toffee pudding any less fattening, but putting this on your plate can make you feel better about yourself.

The mix of ingredients, with colors of red and green mingling with the colored rices, certainly give this a festive appearance. It’s also nice and crunchy! This is great with roast turkey or goose. If you’re a vegetarian, there’s plenty here to satisfy.

Wild Rice Salad

(Serves 8 to 10)

1 cup wild rice

½ cup red rice

½ cup brown rice

3 ½ cups of low sodium vegetable broth

1 cup of raw (or unsalted dry roasted) pistachio meats

¾ cup of dried cherries

1 red bell pepper diced

1 small bunch of radishes, sliced

1 small bunch of scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped

½ cup orange or tangerine juice

1/3 cup of olive oil plus 2 tablespoons for cooling rice

2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

1 teaspoon of honey

Salt for taste

Bring the rice and broth to a boil in a covered pot, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook until all liquid is absorbed and wild rice is slightly tender (about 35 – 45 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from stove, uncover, fluff with a fork, adding 2 tablespoons of olive oil to keep rice from sticking. Cool to room temperature, and then turn out into a large glass salad bowl.

Add pistachios, dried cherries, scallions, radishes, and red pepper.

Combine juice, olive oil, honey, and vinegar in a container with a lid, shake vigorously, and then pour over the rice salad. Mix well, and add salt to taste.

Photo  by Julia Frost on Flickr

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About the Author: Gary Locke

Gary is a semi-professional hyphenate.