How to make wild rice salad with cranberries and pecans

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Amy Topel, food columnist for National Geographic's The Green Guide shows us how to prepare a healthy and delicious wild rice salad dish that will complement any buffet table.

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  • Amy Topel

    Amy Topel Educator and Food Columnist, The Green Guide Amy Topel honed her culinary skills working in restaurants in New York City. She spent a summer in the kitchen at the Herb Farm with Jerry Traunfeld, and has worked as a private chef and caterer. more about this expert »

in the kitchenBasics
How to make wild rice salad with cranberries and pecans

Ingredients

1 cup wild rice
4 cups water or vegetable stock
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup whole pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 scallions, white and green parts cut into half-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Chef Amy Topel's wild rice salad / pilaf recipe will serve six.

  1. Bring stock and water to a boil, and then add rice. (You can use all water or all stock, whichever you'd like.) Stir to make sure it's completely mixed.
  2. Put the lid on and allow it to cook for approximately 45 minutes. Time is less important than when the rice is done --- put a spoon in the rice and taste it! Wild rice is cooked properly when there is a little bit of bite left to it and a lot of the kernels have popped open slightly.
  3. While the rice is cooking, toast the pecans by spreading them on a cookie sheet and placing in a 350 degree oven. Toast for a couple of minutes until they have a nice aroma. Put them in a small bowl and while they're still hot, drizzle them with honey and sprinkle them with cayenne. Toss to combine ingredients.
  4. Add the cranberries to the hot cooked rice so they have a time to plump up for a few minutes.
  5. Add about two tablespoons of olive oil to a sauté pan. Once the oil is heated, add the scallions that have been cut into a half-inch dice. Add half a teaspoon of salt, and a little bit of fresh ground pepper and sauté until they're wilted. (A lot of people throw away the green tops to scallions, but there's no reason to -- their green tops are beautiful and have great flavor!)
  6. When the scallions have wilted, add in the rice and pecan mixture, and sauté for just a couple of minutes. You don't want to overcook the rice, just make sure that all the flavors have melded and that it's warm.
  7. Taste, adjust seasonings if necessary, and serve.


Note: This wild rice salad recipe calls for hand-harvested rice, which is different than regular cultivated wild rice. The name "wild rice" might imply that it's all wild. But in fact, it's not. Most so-called wild rice is grown in California in large rice paddies. True hand-harvested wild rice comes from Native American tribes in the upper mid-west and it really is different. It has better flavor, and more importantly, it's better for our environment. The hand-harvested wild rice is harvested as it sounds, by hand. And no pesticides or chemicals are used while it's being grown. The cultivated wild rice actually uses a lot of pesticides and is bad for the eco-system.

Transcript

Hi, I'm Amy Topel from The Green Guide for howdini and I'm here to show you how to make a quick and easy wild rice pilaf. It's a great accompaniment for turkey, ham, or any holiday meat. The hand harvested wild rice salad is really easy to make.

All I've done is taken two cups of stock and two cups of water and brought them to a boil. You can use all water or all stock, whichever you'd like. I'm then going to add one cu of rice to the boiling water. Stir it around just to make sure it's mixed. Put the lid back on and allow it to cook for 45 minutes. But time is not as important as when the rice is done. And the only way to really tell that is to put a spoon in there and taste it. When wild rice is cooked properly there should be a little bit of bite left to it and a lot of the kernels will have popped open slightly.

In this recipe I'm using hand-harvested rice, which is different than regular cultivated wild rice. The name might imply to you "wild rice - that it's all wild," but in fact it's not; most of its grown in California in large rice patties. True hand harvested wild rice comes from Native American tribes in the upper mid-west and it really is different. It has better flavor and more importantly it's better for our environment. The hand-harvested wild rice is harvested as it sounds, by hand. And they don't use any pesticides or chemicals while it's being grown. The cultivated wild rice actually uses a lot of pesticides and is bad for the eco-system.

I'm going to allow this to cook and while it does I'm going to toast some pecans. Just take a cookie sheet like this and I put the pecans, one cup of chopped pecans, on to the cookie sheet. I'm going to put it in a 350-degree oven. I'm just going to toast them for a couple of minutes until they've taken on a slightly different aroma. Once they've finished toasting I'm going to mix them with one tablespoon of honey and one quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

My rice is finished cooking. I can tell because the grains have split open a little bit. Now, I'm going to add in the cranberries. I'm putting in a half cup of dry cranberries and I want to add them to the hot rice so they have a little bit of time to plump up for a few minutes before I finish the dish. We're going to let this stay there for a second and we're going to go and get our pecans.

The pecans are finished toasting and they have a nice aroma. I'm just going to put them in a small bowl. While they're still hot I want to drizzle them with honey and sprinkle them with cayenne. And I can just kind of toss them around to combine it a little bit. I'm going to pull out a sauté pan and I'm going to add about two tablespoons of olive oil.

Once my oil is heated I'm going to add five scallions that have been cut in to about a half-inch dice and sauté those until they're wilted. I'll add a half a teaspoon of salt, a little bit of fresh ground pepper, and I'll just cook them gently until wilted. A lot of people throw away the green tops to scallions and I really don't understand why because green tops are beautiful and have great flavor. So there's no reason to throw them away.

This recipe is using pecans which are really high in vitamin E, which is an antioxidant, something that all of us could use a little more of. Stirring the scallions in this pan reminds me of one of my favorite things about cooking and that is things are so beautiful, they smell so great, it's really fun to do, and in the end you get to eat this great meal. Okay, my scallions have wilted a bit. So I'm now going to add in my rice and my pecan mixture. I don't want to cook it for very long here; I'm just sort of warming it all up together. I'm going to sauté for just a couple of minutes. I don't want to overcook the rice; I just want to make sure that all the flavors have melded and that it's warm.

And as soon as I've done this I'm just going to taste it, adjust my seasonings and I'm ready to serve. I've got a serving bowl and I'm ready to put it in. You can see that this mixture is really festive looking. There's a beautiful green color of the scallions and the sort of jewel color of the cranberries; it's really quite lovely. And as I said earlier, it goes with almost every kind of meat. I'm Amy Topel from The Green Guide for howdini.


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