In the colder months, take a break from your usual mashed potatoes or yams and try this sweet and savory treat. Wild rice has a deep flavor that has given it a gourmet reputation, in spite of the healthfulness of the grain. If you can find true hand-harvested wild rice from the Great Lakes region, you absolutely must splurge and show off your acquisition in this delicious salad.
Serves 6 (makes about 7 cups)
3 cups water
1 cup wild rice or a rice blend
1 pound sweet potato, cubed (4 cups)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 large scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
2 medium ripe pears, cored and chopped
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
First, cook the wild rice. Truly wild rice and cultivated wild rice have very different cooking times. Add the water to a 2-quart pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. For hand-harvested wild rice, start checking in 20 minutes. Cultivated rice may take 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the rice is tender and just starting to split apart at the ends, drain well. Let cool.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a large sheet pan, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes, stir, and then roast for 10 minutes more, depending on the size of your cubes. When the cubes are easily pierced with a paring knife, they are done. Let cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, combine the wild rice, sweet potatoes, parsley, scallions, and pears. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the wild rice mixture and toss to coat.
Serve topped with walnuts.
Keeps for 2 to 3 days, tightly covered, in the refrigerator. If you want to store it longer, wait to chop the pears until just before serving.
Reprinted with permission from The Whole Grain Promise © 2015 by Robin Asbell, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.