Autumnal Salad with Wild Rice, Brown Rice & Quinoa

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I was first exposed to quinoa back in the early 90s when I lived in the Napa Valley. Quinoa was not as popular then, no one knew how to pronounce it, and it was *very* expensive ($8/per pound!) and difficult to source. This salad accommodates changing ingredients very well — substitute raisins or craisins or other chopped dried fruit for the fresh apple; substitute other nuts for the pecans; leave out the onion. Eat it cold or warm — I have served this stuffed into the cavity of a roasted acorn squash, and in place of stuffing at Thanksgiving.

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Cook wild rice:

  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Rinse wild rice thoroughly and drain. Bring water and salt to a boil in a pot that is big enough for wild rice to triple in volume. Add the wild rice, cover the pot, return the water to a boil, and then turn heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes or until some of the wild rice grains have burst open. Wild  rice should be chewy and tender. Set aside to cool in a very large bowl.

Cook brown rice:

  • 1 cup medium- or long-grain brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Rinse rice and combine with water and salt in pot that is big enough for rice to triple in volume. Bring water to a boil, and then down to a bare simmer over low heat. Cover pot and cook for 40-45 minutes.  Drain rice of any excess water — at this point rice should be chewy and tender. Add drained rice back to pan (if you’ve removed it during the draining) and put cover back on pot and allow rice to sit for 10 minutes off-heat, covered. After 10 minutes, remove cover and fluff with fork. Add to wild rice and stir to combine in very large bowl, and set aside to cool.

Cook quinoa:

  • 1 cup quinoa — either white, red or a tricolor mix of white, red & black
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Rinse quinoa and drain.  Combine with water and salt in pot that is big enough for quinoa to triple in volume. Bring water to a boil, and then down to a bare simmer over low heat. Cover pot and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Drain quinoa of any excess water. Quinoa is finished cooking when the grain appears translucent and soft, and the germ ring is visible along the outside edge of the grain.  Add to wild rice +  brown rice mixture, stir to combine in very large bowl, and set aside to cool.

  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, small diced
  • 1 bulb fennel, small diced
  • 2 sweet-tart apples such as McIntosh or Honeycrisp, small diced with peel on
  • 1 cup toasted, chopped pecans

Add to bowl that has cooled wild rice / brown rice / quinoa — stir to combine.

Make dressing:

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) honey (optional)

Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil, to create emulsion. Season with salt & pepper (and honey, if using). Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Pour over salad-ingredients in very large bowl, and stir to distribute.

Yield: this easily makes 5 or 6 heaping 1 cup servings, and lasts for 5 days, refrigerated. Sir to redistribute dressing before serving.

 

 

 

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