Saturday was Kate’s 60th birthday. Kate is a good friend of my parents, from their graduate school days. She, her husband, and their daughter flew out to San Diego from Williamsburg, VA, and met up with her son, who now lives in San Diego. My mom and I put on a damn fine dinner for eight Saturday night. We did three courses from Michel Richard’s Happy in the Kitchen, plus a soup from the Book of Soups, an intermezzo in the form of David Lebovitz‘ Raspberry-Rose sorbet, and a decidedly excessive chocolate cake (by the way, don’t ever bother with chocolate transfer sheets). Needless to say, I’m beat. And stuffed.
Henning requested something healthy tonight, after the weekend’s excess, and man, was I happy to oblige. We decided on a recipe that’s been in rotation as a result of a meal that my mother and Kate had at the National Museum of the American Indian a few years ago. The museum cafe serves an amazing wild rice salad, and Kate asked for the recipe. The waitress acted like it was on lockdown, but a few days later my mom found the recipe on the museum’s website, right there in the FAQs. Go figure!
At any rate, the salad is definitely worth searching for, and I’m glad my mom found the recipe. Its nutty sweetness is perfect alongside salmon, but it’s filling and interesting enough to be a meal in itself. Wild rice is tossed with cranberries, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, carrots, tomatoes and scallions, all dressed lightly with apple cider vinegar and a touch of honey. It is served room temperature, and it just gets better after sitting for a few hours, so it’s perfect for a picnic or a potluck.
Wild Rice Salad
After making this recipe a few times, I noticed that I like it with less oil and a slight increase in the quantities of “non-rice” ingredients. The recipe you see below is my adaptation of the original, which came from the Museum of the American Indian.
6 cups vegetable stock stock
1 1/2 cup wild rice
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup coarsely grated carrots
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
5 scallions, sliced
3 bunches watercress (optional)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tbs canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
Combine the chicken stock and wild rice in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, for about 45–55 minutes, until the grains are just opened up and tender. Drain any excess liquid and spread the hot rice on a baking sheet to cool.
Meanwhile, spread the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat. Toast, stirring frequently and keeping a watchful eye, until they are fragrant and browned in spots. Remove them from the pan and set aside to cool. Put the pumpkin seeds in the pan over medium heat again and toast them until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Be careful not to burn the pumpkin seeds, or they will be bitter.
Whisk cider vinegar and honey in a bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Put the cranberries in the bowl with the dressing to soften.
When rice is cool, scrape it into a large bowl and add carrots, diced tomato, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, and scallions. Toss all ingredients together with the vinaigrette and cranberries. Allow to sit at room temperature for half an hour. Serve over watercress.