I’ve not always been an ardent fan of wild rice. As a kid, I don’t recall eating it much, and then in my early 20’s, I had an extremely dangerous case of food poisoning that involved shrimp and wild rice and since then? Yeah, you can imagine the aversion I’ve held. And the aroma of this native grass (please don’t call it a whole grain- it’s not even close) is so pungent and strong that I often run the exhaust fan and open windows if I can while it’s cooking to avoid the old, musty-shoe smell of it.
In spite of all that, I keep wild rice on hand regularly, because what it can create in it’s finished state, with it’s firm, chewy and hearty texture is a dish worthy of any gathering, or simply a treat for your every day meal. And I’m grateful to have learned of it’s merits, growing beyond turning my back on such a nutritious and healthy food. One of my most favorite soups, this Wild Rice & Mushroom dish, is one of the best reasons to keep a bag in the pantry, and of course, once Thanksgiving is over, a simmering pot of Turkey Wild Rice soup always makes an appearance, as it makes my boy’s eyes shine like the sun. I love seeing that in his face.
And for Thanksgiving this year, in an effort to bring more non-meat options to our family table, I’ll be making a huge bowl of this Wild Rice Harvest Salad, and as I take up a spoonful, I’ll be saying thanks to the earth for producing this gem, and raise a glass of Famiglia Meschini Carmenere to toast alongside our meal.
I’m really enamored with the Famiglia Meschini wines; every one I’ve tried is full of bold flavor, true to it’s varietal and best of all, so affordably priced. I tend to get bent out of shape over wine pricing, and the perceived idea that to enjoy good wine you’ve got to spend a lot of money and the Famiglia wines turn that on it’s ear, thank goodness. If you are at all interested in getting a first-hand dunking in to all that the family stands for, they are hosting an amazing food and wine dinner in Minneapolis in January, and you can find all the information for that on this page.
The Carmenere wine is deep red and full of rich plum flavor. The taste is smooth and supple, owing to the 10% Cabernet Sauvignon in it to tame the Carmenere grape a bit. It brings an earthy nose and finishes forever, but never over-powering. Although traditionally paired with beef, it sits nicely next to this heavily flavored Wild Rice salad, resplendent with kale and sliced Brussels Sprouts, snappy apple slices and crunchy pecans. A spritely vinaigrette blends it all nicely together.
Wild Rice Harvest Salad
1 c. cooked wild rice (according to package directions)
1 Golden Delicious apple, sliced thin
1 c. Brussels Sprouts, thinly sliced
1 c. kale leaves, chopped fine
1/2 c. good quality olive oil
3 T. Apple Cider vinegar (or if you can find any type of pecan or other nut vinegar, use that instead)
1 t. deli style spicy mustard
Roasted pecans for garnish
In a small bowl or measuring cup, blend the oil, vinegar, spicy mustard and a few shakes of sea salt and cracked black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Combine Brussels Sprouts and kale in a large bowl and drizzle a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette over it. With your hands, blend the vinaigrette and greens together, massaging slightly to help soften the kale leaves. Allow to stand for 10 minutes. Add in the wild rice, apple slices and a handful of broken pecan pieces. Toss to coat and drizzle a bit more vinaigrette over it, then more salt and pepper to taste. Allow to stand at room temperature before serving, adding more vinaigrette as needed.
This salad leans heavily on the greens and less on the wild rice. You can swing it easily in one direction or the other, adding more wild rice and less greens if you prefer it that way.
Additional items that you could add to this salad would be endless: roasted sweet potato or carrot chunks, sliced celery, dried cranberries….. it’s a blank slate for your own personal taste. Explore! Enjoy!!
Disclaimer: I was provided a bottle of Famiglia Meschini wine in exchange for this post. All words and opinions are my own.