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Monday, January 9, 2012

Winter Wild Rice Salad

This salad is fairly easy to put together. It has a long cooking time because of the wild rice, but it doesn't require a lot of attention. I'll tell you it takes even less time if you turn on the correct burner on the stove. As I was making this for the second time it seemed like it was taking an awful long time to cook. After 40 minutes there wasn't much progress at all. I had actually been about a tablespoon short of rice and wondered if that could possibly be why so much of the liquid wasn't absorbing. It just seemed odd, so I decided to remove the lid and turn up the heat. It was then that I discovered the burner wasn't on. Things went pretty smooth once I turned the heat on and it didn't make a difference in the final product, thank goodness.
I originally made this dish for our Christmas eve neighborhood potluck. There was so much good food that night that I didn't really get a chance to enjoy much more than a bite of this salad. It makes enough to serve at least eight people and I thought it would be great to make up a batch as a side for Sunday dinner and then have the leftovers for lunch throughout the week. I love the variety of flavors and textures, it really does make for a filling meal all on its own.
Feel free to play around with the ingredients adding your favorite dried fruits or nuts. I'm sure this would be good with dried cherries, walnuts, or chopped hazelnuts. I was also thinking some chopped fresh grapes or a bit of citrus might even work. Give it a little bit of whatever you keep stocked in your pantry for a cold winter day.

Winter Wild Rice Salad
adapted from Bon Appetit
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large celery stalks, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups wild rice
2 cups low-salt vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
3/4 cup (3 oz.) pecans, toasted
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup (about 3 oz.) dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (about 2 1/2 oz.) golden raisins
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced small celery stalks

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped celery and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and almost translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add wild rice; stir for 1 minute. Add broth, bay leaf, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 1/2 cups water; increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover, stir, and continue cooking, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 20–40 minutes.
Discard bay leaf. Stir in dried cranberries, apricots, and raisins. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
Season rice to taste with salt and pepper. Fold pecans and sliced celery into mixture.Serve warm or at room temperature.

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