Wild rice, not actually being rice, is really one of a kind. It has this chewy grainy texture that is slightly addicting and thoroughly enjoyable. It may be common for some to use but really I kind of consider it one of my “once in a while choices”, and I want to use it more often. So yes, I did say that wild rice is not a rice. It is actually a sea grass or aquatic plant. It grows in damp and wet environments such as river and is hulled right out of the water.
Sometimes you are not even getting a true wild grass when you go to buy it, as it is commonly blended with other rices (short grain, basmati, red, long grain). So when you are going for the real deal make sure you are looking for organic hand harvested wild rice from the great lakes region in North America. This way you can also support native American harvesters!
The colour of wild rice ranges from a dark black to a lighter colour. The darker and richer the grass is, the more smokier and fermented it is going to taste. However most of the time wild rice will give a nutty and woodsy flavour which makes it great for warming pilafs and grain based salads. Wild rice can also vary in length, sometimes they are much shorter and others (mostly) are longer. So I encourage you to experiment with different varieties depending on what you are going for. The good news is, is that wild rice has an excellent shelf life so it can be stored in a glass jar for several months.
Because I have been craving wild rice for some time now, I took it upon myself to make a delicious pilaf for a mini dinner party I hosted at my house. Wild rice, like any rice dish can be made with anything added to it. You can make it sweet, savoury, put it into a soup, pancakes or combine it with other grains. Since I like to combine flavours, I made a yummy pilaf with both sweet and savoury accents along with different textures and of course colour. This would make a great side dish to any holiday recipe!
Wild Rice with Roasted Yams, Cherries and Cashews
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chives or green onions
Sea salt and ground pepper
2 cups water,
1 cup wild rice
1-2 yams cut into cubes and roasted
1/3 cup chopped dried cherries
¼ cup chopped toasted cashews
1 bunch of kale, chopped into pieces and lightly steamed
Preheat oven to 350F
- Place cubed yams into oven on baking sheet for 45 min
- Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.
- Add the wild rice, return to a boil.
- Cover, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the water has been absorbed.
- Lightly steam chopped kale in a separate pot.
- Fluff and stir in the cherries and cashews and roasted yams
- Let stand, covered for 5 minutes.
- Stir in kale, olive oil and sea salt to taste. Place in a serving bowl and garnish with remaining chives.
- Serve hot or at room temperature.