Spring Wild Rice Salad

Spring Wild Rice Salad Recipe

It's unfortunate, but aside from the holiday season wild rice seems to be all but ignored. For an eight week stretch as the year comes to a close I typically see it used in two ways -in stuffings, or as a side salad punctuated with dried cranberries. Then nothing for another year. Wild rice is such a unique and nutritious ingredient, I made a note-to-self to try to work it in to my day to day cooking more often. As we start getting more warm days, the nuttiness of the rice plays beautifully off many springtime ingredients. For lunch yesterday I decided to make a spring inspired wild rice salad - vibrant asparagus, yellow split peas, and wild rice tossed in an almond butter dressing and finished off with a bit of goat cheese and chives.

For those of you who don't cook with wild rice often, there is a whole world of wild rice to learn about. The first thing (and many of you already know this), wild rice isn't actually a rice - it's an annual aquatic grass. There are a wide range of wild rices available. Some come from their native upper Great Lakes region, others come from Idaho, Washington, and California. You can buy hand-harvested wild rice, you can buy cultivated wild rice. Connoisseurs will be quick to tell you that wild rice hand-harvested from a canoe is like a fine wine, the creme de la creme, others counter that at $10-$20 per pound not everyone can afford it. As I mention in SNC it can be surprisingly light in color and often takes much less time to cook than it's cultivated cousin - the darker, glossy, brownish black wild rice you are likely familiar with.

We talk a lot about cooking times on this site, and as with most grains (or grain-like ingredients), cooking time can vary greatly from rice to rice depending on the type of wild rice you buy, when it was harvested, and so on - so keep that in mind as you go into any recipe that features wild rice.

Semi-related rice recipes:

- Poached Eggs Over Rice
- Red Rice Salad
- Coconut Rice
- Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice

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Spring Wild Rice Salad Recipe

You can use tahini or experiment with other nut butters here. Also, If you like a bit more texture you can pan-fry the split peas for a minute or so - don't go too far or that get overly crunchy. You can easily make this vegan by omitting the goat cheese.

Almond Dressing:
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
1/4 cup almond butter
zest of one lemon
scant 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
scant 1/4 cup hot water
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
4 cups cooked wild rice*
1 cup cooked yellow split peas**
1 bunch chives, chopped
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled (optional)

Whisk together the garlic, almond butter, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Add the hot water to thin a bit and then the salt. Set aside.

Bring a saucepan full of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the asparagus. Cook for just a minute - until the asparagus is just bright and tender. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

In a large bowl combine the wild rice, yellow split peas, asparagus, and abot half of the almond dressing. Give it a good toss. Add more dressing if needed. Taste, and add more salt if needed. Serve topped with chives and crumbled goat cheese.

Serves 8.

*To cook wild rice (SNC 60). Rinse 1 1/2 cups wild rice. In a medium sauce pan bring the rice and 4 1/2 cups salted water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes or until rice is tender and splitting open, stirring occasionally.

**To cook dried yellow spilt peas: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add 3/4 cup dried yellow split peas, and cook for 20 -30 minutes, or until tender. Drain, salt to taste and set aside.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I love the texture of wild rice. I never thought to make a nice side salad from it, nor did I realize it was aquatic grass. Split peas or maybe some lentils sound great in this salad. I would try it with peanut butter but the almond butter sounds better because of the asparagus. Top it with some sliced almonds as well and this looks like a perfect dish! Thanks for sharing. - The Peanut Butter Boy

.....is this supposed to be served warm or cold?


I've used wild rice on and off through the years and I have discovered that the big secret for me to enjoy it is to not under cook it! Sounds pretty simple but I have been known to be impatient. And it is quite an exercise to eat if under cooked. Heidi, your wild rice/ curry coconut soup is amongst my favorites in SNC. My picky husband loves it so much that I made it for his birthday this year. And quite easy to make at that!


Sounds great! And congratulations on the James Beard Foundation Award nomination in the Healthy Focus category!

Jamie Engle

Heya, Heidi! Just thought I'd drop a comment and tell you how great that pizza dinner turned out to be! If it weren't for your help I don't know if we would have had nearly as much fun. By the way, this recipe looks & sounds delicious and I look forward to trying it out. - Kacie


Re the lack of spring/summer wild rice dishes, there's a wonderful wild rice salad: orange juice & rind, mint,scallions, etc. in the original Silver Palate cookbook, page 345. I substitute pine nuts for the pecans, and don't use the raisins as they overwhelm the salad. Truly delicious!


I just bought some asparagus yesterday and also happen to have leftover cooked wild rice from dinner last night ---this recipe is calling my name! I think i'll try it with some sunflower butter that I have on hand. Beautiful dish!


I will try this...I have almond butter in the fridge! and it seems very healthy, too.

What a beautiful salad, you always use such vibrant colors and flavors. Great post as usual!

I’m trying to work in more (healthier) foods into my diet, so I’m sadly a bit new to some of the substitutions possible… why did you choose yellow split peas? Is there a difference that it wouldn’t work with green split peas? Or was it just whimsy and to give more color, given the asparagus? (Because I have green split peas and the rest of the ingredients on hand… whereas the yellow split peas would require a trip to the store.)

Heidi, love your recipes and your comments. Your comments here, though, perpetuate a myth I see in many wild rice recipes, i.e., that wild rice isn't actually 'rice,' but rather a seed of an aquatic grass. Well, rice IS an aquatic grass and both wild rice and "regular" rice belong to the same botanical genus.


another winner. and that almond butter would compliment the wild rice so perfectly. i have some in my pantry but it's about a year old. but heidi - really. the split peas and the asparagus - the goat cheese... what an amazing and beautiful combination. again and again you are always the best, the classiest and the healthiest! i adore you!

Oh yes! A use for almond butter! I've mixed it with chocolate to make a faux-Nutella but otherwise been at a loss for recipes to put it in. This looks great. I love wild rice, at any time of the year.

I love the idea of using almond butter in a dressing! I suspect it just adds to the earthiness of the wild rice. I'm always looking for interesting grain or rice based salad or soups since they keep well and make a great, filling brown bag lunch. And I'm so excited it's asparagus season again!

Asparagus have been particularly good this spring, especially living in the South. I have always enjoyed the nuttiness of wild rice and like the combination of ingredients in your recipe. But, for some reason I prefer an orange flavor though, don’t you think it would work if I substituted the lemon by using orange zest and juice?

Asparagus have been particularly good this spring, especially living in the South. I have always enjoyed the nuttiness of wild rice and like the combination of ingredients in your recipe. But, for some reason I prefer an orange flavor though, don’t you think it would work if I substituted the lemon by using orange zest and juice?

Looks fantastic, I bought some red wild rice a couple of weeks ago and still haven't done anything with it, this looks like it might be it!!!

Being a Minnesotan (well, three times removed, but still... I'm enamored of the accent and bear just a trace of it myself), I am a fan of wild rice. I'm not well-read on the nutritional value though -- does it, like most grains, form a complete protein when mixed with legumes (like the split peas in this recipe)? With the chives and the asparagus, this recipe pretty well announces the arrival of spring. Fresh produce is still a bit off, here in the Midwest, but there's light at the end of the food tunnel now!

Wonderful! The textures must be amazing with the almonds and the asparagus and the split peas... oh and the creaminess of the goat cheese... sounds delicious! and healthy!

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