Wild Rice Salad
This Wild Rice Salad is on my list of Top 5 Favorite Salads of all time. It has incredible flavors and textures, and also keeps really well in the fridge for healthy eating at a moment’s notice.
If you’re striving to eat healthier but still want to eat wildly delicious food, try this salad. Seriously, it’s so delicious, and has lots of flavor.
The magnificence of this nutty wild rice salad is the precise combination of ingredients.
I’ve tested many variations, trying dried cherries in place of raisins, swapping the carrots for parsnips for a more spiced flavor, subbing baby spinach for the arugula, but nothing comes close to the magic of this combination.
It is one of our “regulars” and if you don’t usually find yourself cooking with wild rice, you may just fall in love with its heartiness and flavor here.
Step by Step Overview:
The first thing you want to do is get some carrots roasting.
Peel whole carrots, then cut into 1/2″ thick slices using a sharp knife:
It doesn’t matter if the discs are different sizes, they just need to be the same thickness.
Place the carrot slices in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, kosher salt, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, paprika, and ground cumin:
I love this spice blend with carrots, and I use the same flavors with my Carrot Raisin Salad.
Roast the carrots in the oven until tender:
What kind of wild rice should you use?
Make sure to buy a true wild rice and not a wild rice blend, which will be cut with other kinds of rice. It varies by brand, but sometimes with black rice, red rice, or brown rice.
Wild rice is actually not a true rice, but rather a grass.
Using the rice cooker is as simple as combining rinsed wild rice and water and turning the machine on (I have success using both the brown rice and white rice setting). It’s comparably similar with the Instant Pot.
However, you can also simply use a saucepan with a lid if that’s what you have.
While the carrots and wild rice are both cooking, toast shelled pistachios in olive oil for a few minutes:
Then add raisins, and toss it together.
This helps plump the raisins slightly.
Once the rice cooker is done, spread the cooked rice out on a sheet pan to let the wild rice grains cool, otherwise the heat will wilt the arugula greens.
To bring it all together, combine the roasted carrots, cooked and cooled wild rice, toasted pistachios, and raisins in a big bowl:
Add fresh arugula and lemon vinaigrette:
The lemon vinaigrette recipe is easy to make, and so flavorful. I don’t recommend substituting a storebought dressing, as it just won’t compare to the fresh lemon juice and lemon zest that’s in there!
Also, I do not wash the fresh arugula, but rather I purchase the triple washed greens that come in those big plastic tubs, ready to go. If you wash your own greens, make sure they are very, very dry before using. You don’t want excess water watering down the salad dressing.
Toss everything together to distribute the ingredients:
Taste a little bit and see if it needs any more seasoning. Sometimes I add a small pinch of salt, and toss again right in the mixing bowl.
This delicious salad is best eaten right away at room temperature, however it stores surprisingly well in the fridge for up to 2 days. The arugula wilts slightly, but still has decent texture.
Hearty salads like this take well to changing up the ingredients during the seasons. Here are some different salad ingredients I’ve enjoyed here.
Onion – Some people hate raw onion in salad, and some people love it. Feel free to add thinly sliced red onion or shallot, or even sliced green onions for a milder bite.
Cheese – Feel free to add crumbled cheese here. Crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese are my favorite choices.
Fruit – For extra sweetness, add pomegranate arils, chopped pear, or dried cranberries.
Orange Dressing– If you’d like something milder for the dressing, make an orange vinaigrette by swapping the lemon in the recipe for orange juice and orange zest. Adding one tablespoon of maple syrup to the dressing in the fall months also tastes delicious and can lean it toward more of a holiday meal.
Adding protein – This is the perfect salad for adding leftover turkey or chicken. Add as much as you wish, just make sure to add extra dressing to coat as needed.
Recipe FAQ and Tips
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Wild Rice Salad
For the Roasted Carrots:
- 1 lb carrots
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground cumin
For the Wild Rice Salad:
- 1 cup wild rice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2/3 cup shelled salted pistachios
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 5 oz baby arugula
- 1/2 cup lemon vinaigrette
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Slice the carrots 1/2″ thick, and toss in a bowl with the salt, olive oil, cinnamon, paprika, cloves, and cumin.
- Spread the carrots out onto the parchment lined sheet pan, scraping any oil from the bowl on to the pan.
- Roast for 25 minutes, then toss and roast for another 10-15 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
- Next cook the wild rice with the salt per package directions. You typically need 2.33 cups of water for every cup of wild rice. I prefer to cook mine in a rice cooker, but you can also cook it in a saucepan or Instant Pot. After cooking, spread the cooked wild rice out on a sheet pan to cool, otherwise the heat will wilt the arugula greens.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat, then add the pistachios. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, to toast the nuts. Then add the raisins, stir to combine, and remove from the heat.
- To bring everything together, toss to combine the cooked wild rice, roasted carrots, pistachios, raisins, arugula, and lemon vinaigrette. Taste and see if it needs another pinch of salt or any other seasonings.
- The salad is best while the rice is still warm, but leftovers keep nicely in the fridge for up to 2 days. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.