This cold wild rice salad is bursting with Fall flavor, but it’s delicious enough to be enjoyed at any time of the year. It’s loaded with filling fiber, crunchy pecans, and sweet apples and dried cranberries for lots of flavor and texture in each bite!
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This recipe comes from my friend Jenn’s new book, Once Upon a Chef, the Cookbook. I discovered Jenn’s blog a few years ago when I was looking for a new salad recipe. I tried one from her site and immediately fell in love!
Jenn is a classically trained chef, so she knows what she’s doing in the kitchen. Her recipes aren’t always health-driven, but she uses lots of fresh ingredients, and her flavors are always spot-on, so I can easily modify her recipes to fit my needs. The recipes in this book are no different!
What makes Jenn’s book really special to me are the cooking tips she sprinkles throughout the book. For example, when baking, she suggests adding the ingredients to your mixing bowl in little piles, so that if you get distracted (as I always do!), you’ll be able to look in your bowl and see what you’ve already added. So smart!
Jenn has generously allowed me to share one of her healthy salad recipes here, so I hope you’ll enjoy it. She mentions that it’s the perfect salad to bring to a Thanksgiving potluck, and lends itself well to leftovers. Add some leftover turkey on top for a lighter post-Thanksgiving meal, or serve it with some chickpeas for some plant-based protein, instead.
Benefits of Wild Rice
Wild rice is naturally gluten-free and has more protein per serving than brown rice. Wild rice is also rich in antioxidants and essential minerals like magnesium and phosphorus. If you can only find wild rice available as a blend in your local store, be sure to look for one that is a mix of wild rice and long-grain brown rice, so that the cooking time will be similar.
Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries & Pecans
- 1 cup wild rice , rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice , from one orange
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup pecans , toasted and coarsley chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 celery ribs , diced
- 1 apple , peeled, cored, and diced
- 1/4 cup roasted and salted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
- 2 scallions , light and green parts, thinly sliced
- In a medium pot, combine the rice, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low; cover and simmer until the rice is tender and most of the grains have split open, about 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the rice to a fine-mesh strainer to drain any excess water. Let cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the cooled rice, pecans, dried cranberries, parsley, celery, apple, pepitas, and scallions. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if desired. Serve cold or at room temperature.
- For a vegan salad, use maple syrup instead of honey, to taste. (I usually use a little more maple syrup when swapping it for honey.)
- If you’d prefer to cook your wild rice in the Instant Pot, use a 1:1 ratio of rinsed rice to water. Cook it at high pressure for 25 minutes, then let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes before moving the steam release valve to venting. When the floating valve drops, it’s safe to remove the lid.
- To toast pecans, preheat the oven to 350ºF and set an oven rack in the middle position. Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 6 to 10 minutes, until toasted and fragrant.
Reader Feedback: Do you have a favorite make-ahead salad? If you haven’t tried it yet, my Quinoa Salad is also a reader favorite!