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:
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.
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.
*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.