Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wild Rice Celery and Walnut Salad - Outdoor Wednesday

Last summer I had the opportunity to tour a local farm where wild rice is grown. While the Willamette Valley is beautiful, heavy clay soil restricts what can be grown here. Fortunately, the damp clay of the valley floor is perfect for growing grasses and wild rice is, as you know, a water-grass. Years ago a grain specialist at Oregon State University, tossed a handful of wild rice seeds into a pond behind his home to see if they would grow in this climate. A year later he had wild rice in his yard and published an article about it. As a result of the article, some far-thinking farmers planted a water-grass crop and the state's wild rice industry was born. At the moment our wild rice is still under water. In late April or early May, sprouts emerge from the water and rest on its surface. It looks a bit like seaweed at this point. Come June, the rice goes through a growth spurt and begins to stand erect. It will grow until it's about 6 feet tall and set flowers sometime in July. When the flowers set seed, the fields in which the rice grows are drained and the crop is mechanically harvested. Combined rice is allowed to ferment before it's de-hulled, dried, sorted and packaged for sale to locavores. Now the only problem is what to do with it. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of recipes for wild rice available to us. I found the recipe for this salad in the New York Times. I've modified it over and over again and have finally come up with something I really like. This recipe can also be used for brown rice, should you prefer it. The salad should be served at room temperature. Here's the recipe.

Wild Rice, Celery and Walnut Salad


4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup wild rice, rinsed

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup broken and toasted walnut pieces or 1 cup candied walnuts

1-1/4 cups thinly sliced celery

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

Salad Dressing

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 cup walnut oil

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt


1) Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add salt and wild rice. Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes, or until rice is tender and splayed. Drain. Toss with walnuts, celery and parsley.

2) To make salad dressing, place lemon juice, garlic,salt, pepper, sugar, walnut oil, olive oil and yogurt in a jar with a lid. Shake until combined. Pour over wild rice mixture and toss to mix. Adjust seasonings to taste. Yield: 6 servings.

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