Cranberry Pecan Wild Rice Salad – a high protein, gluten free dish that’s perfect for your holiday table.
Most holiday side dishes are heavy. Even the vegetable sides usually seem to be smothered in butter, oil, cheese, etc. And if you replace those things with plant based versions, it’s still very heavy stuff that weighs you down and puts you in that (all too well known) food coma. Am I right? I wanted to make a side dish that is hearty, but not heavy, and this Cranberry Pecan Wild Rice Salad is the perfect thing. This salad is nutty, tangy, sweet and packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. It’s also very easy and almost all of the cooking time is hands off. Be sure to include this dish on your Thanksgiving table this year!
What is Wild Rice?
Wild rice isn’t really rice at all. It’s actually a seed from a marsh grass. It’s much easier to cook than regular rice…no mushy rice here. It maintains a nice chewy bite after cooking. It is a complete protein, gluten free, high in B vitamins, fiber and iron, but low in fat, making this type of rice a great choice as an alternative to all those heavy, fatty sides dishes. This salad would also make a filling light lunch or dinner anytime of the year.
Flavors and Textures
In this salad, the nutty flavor of the wild rice pairs wonderfully with the sweet, tart dried cranberries, the buttery pecans and the tangy dressing. It may be lower in fat, but it’s definitely not lacking in flavor. My mother-in-law happened to be over the second time I was making this dish. She didn’t know that I intended for it to be a Thanksgiving side, but after trying it, she requested that I bring it for our family meal. Perfect…because that was the plan! 🙂 And it’s always a good thing to stay on your mother-in-law’s good side, right?! (Actually, I totally hit the jackpot with my in-laws! They are amazing!)
This was also readily approved by my hubby, who is a rice aficionado (he loathes potatoes – I do not understand this!! – so we eat a LOT of rice!). He has two BIG helpings when he first tried it and then proceeded to eat the leftovers off of one of our daughter’s plates. 🙂
Cranberry Pecan Wild Rice Salad
For a healthy, flavorful side dish that will fill you up, but not fill you out, try this Cranberry Pecan Wild Rice Salad! Be sure to come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback and rating after you try it. You can also find me on social media. Be sure to tag @veggie_inspired and #veggieinspired so I’m sure to see it. Enjoy!
- 1 shallot (diced)
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 cup wild rice (rinsed and drained)
- 2 3/4 cups vegetable broth (divided)
- juice of 2 mandarin oranges (I used Cuties...they are super juicy)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1.5 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Saute the onion and garlic in 1/4 cup vegetable broth over medium heat until they have softened. About 6-7 minutes.
- Add the rosemary by crushing it between your fingers as you sprinkle it in. This releases the oils of the dried herb and makes it more flavorful.
Add the wild rice, remaining vegetable broth, mandarin juice and dried cranberries. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 45-55 minutes until the rice is cooked through. It should still have a chewy bite to it, but should not be hard.
If there is any liquid remaining, you can cook uncovered for another 5 minutes or simply pour off the remaining liquid. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the the maple syrup, dijon and tamari. Pour into the rice mixture and stir until well incorporated.
Add the nuts and stir to combine.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
I have also made this in my Instant Pot which reduces the cooking time by half! Put your Instant Pot on sauté first for the onion and garlic. Then add all the other ingredients expect maple syrup, dijon, tamari and nuts. Switch to Manual with a cook time of 25 minutes. Use a 10 minute cool down with a quick release. Pour off any remaining liquid. Add the maple syrup, dijon, tamari and nuts and stir to incorporate.
Serve warm. Enjoy!
*Original posted November 2015. Photos updated November 2017. Original recipe stands.