Food & Drink

Wild rice makes a salad that’s hearty and complex

The addition of wild rice makes this salad especially filling.
The addition of wild rice makes this salad especially filling. KELLI DUNN

It’s nice to have a few salad recipes that can serve as main dishes, and the wild rice in this one makes it especially filling. A big forkful of tender leaves with little piles of rice, sweet dates and crunchy nuts provides the perfect combination of flavors and textures.

This was a tough recipe to name. I thought about calling it “wild rice, chickpea, date, cashew, celery and mixed green salad,” but decided something simpler might be best. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on in this salad – and it’s all good.

I’ve had rice salads that include fruit and nuts, which inspired me to add dates – a nice, meaty alternative to dried cranberries or raisins – and cashews, which are smooth and buttery, and blend well with the other ingredients. I wanted more protein, and chickpeas fit in without taking over. There’s also some chopped celery for a fresh crunch.

The dressing is simple: basic balsamic vinaigrette with brown sugar. I like sweet dressings, and the brown sugar highlights the dates. But you could certainly use a citrus vinaigrette. For other interpretations, play around with different combinations of nuts and fruit or add bacon. I used wild rice, but brown rice is a great alternative. Any type of whole grain would do.

Kelli Dunn is a writer for TheKitchn.com.

Wild Rice and Mixed Greens Salad

1 cup wild rice

4 cups water

Salt

5 ounces mixed or baby greens (about 6 big handfuls), washed and dried

1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

8 dried dates, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup roasted cashews

2 large celery ribs, chopped

For the vinaigrette:

2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Combine the wild rice with the water and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes, until the rice is tender. Pour the rice into a strainer to drain off any remaining water, then cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a large bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking, until the dressing is slightly thick and all the olive oil is incorporated.

To assemble the salad, add the greens to the bowl and toss to coat. Then add the chickpeas, dates, cashews, celery and rice. Toss gently until all the ingredients are combined. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings as a main course.

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