I’m going to put some more “Thanksgiving potential” out there for the diligent menu planners. (I’m one of those, except “diligent” might not be the right word. “Obsessive,” maybe?)
I’m certainly not obsessed with Martha Stewart the person, but I really do enjoy the special holiday issues of some of her magazines. There are always plenty of fun, crafty ideas, and I’d hate to miss out on the holiday recipe collection. Today’s recipe – Wild Rice Salad – is from the 2008 Season’s Eatings issue. I was drawn to this one for two main reasons. One, the magazine said this dish is actually better when it’s made a day ahead, which makes it perfect for company. Two, it’s gluten-free, and I’ll be having a dinner guest in a few weeks who doesn’t eat wheat.
Yet again, I made a half recipe (4 servings) since I was just cooking for two. Double the ingredients to follow the original recipe, which serves eight.
First, I cooked 1 cup of wild rice according to package directions. I completely forgot that wild rice is like brown rice (it takes *forever* (50 – 60 minutes) to cook), so be sure to plan accordingly. One positive aspect of the eternal rice cooking time is that I had plenty of time to prep the other salad ingredients. I cut half of a small red onion, half of a celery stalk, and half of a small carrot into 1/4-inch dice. Next, I toasted 1/4 cup of slivered almonds on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350F oven. (Toasting took about 7 – 8 minutes; just watch them carefully. When they’re fragrant, they’re pretty much done.) I waited until the last minute to core half of a red apple and cut it into 1/4-inch dice since I didn’t want it to turn brown. (Toss the diced apple with a bit of lemon juice to prevent discoloration if you really want to prep it early.)
When the rice was ready, I drained it and rinsed it under cold water and then placed it in a medium bowl. In a medium skillet, I melted 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter over medium heat. I sauteed the diced apple with a pinch of ground cloves, stirring, until the pieces were slightly golden (4 minutes). I added the apple mixture to the cooked rice.
In the same skillet, I heated 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. I added the diced red onion, celery, and carrot, along with 1 minced garlic clove. I sauteed the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the onion was translucent and just beginning to brown (6 minutes). I transferred the veggies to the bowl with the rice-apple mixture, added 2 tablespoons of dried currants, and seasoned with salt and pepper.
To make the dressing, I added 1 tablespoon of apple-cider vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of water to the hot skillet, still over medium heat. (I pre-mixed the liquids in a small bowl and dumped everything in at once to make things easier.) I cooked the mixture, whisking, until it was reduced by half (1 – 2 minutes). I whisked in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, drizzled it over the salad, and tossed it to combine. I let the salad sit for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld, and then I served it garnished with the toasted almonds.
This salad is so, SO good. I did taste it immediately after I finished it, and I was concerned that it was going to be a bit too vinegar-y. Those 30 minutes of resting time were like magic, though. I absolutely loved the texture – slightly chewy wild rice and currants, tender-crisp fruit and vegetables – and the toasted almonds really put things over the top. Mmm, mmm, mmm.
Definitely make this one ahead, even if you only let it sit for 30 – 60 minutes. If you’re going to serve it the next day, cover it, refrigerate it, bring it to room temperature and add the toasted almonds just before serving. I enjoyed some of our leftovers the next day for lunch, and the flavor and texture were still amazing.
TIP: Grocery stores like Whole Foods (and even some of the nicer locations of standard chains) have foods like wild rice, slivered almonds, and dried currants available in the bulk foods section of the grocery store. Save pantry space and money by just buying what you need.
Recipe link: Wild Rice Salad