Kale, Wild Rice & Orange Salad
This is one of my family’s and friends’ favorite hearty salads! The combination of chewy “nutty” wild rice with bitter kale and sweet juicy oranges, topped with a pecan crunch makes for a complex, satisfying and nutritious bite.
This recipe had its beginnings from Molly Watson’s cookbook, “Greens + Grains, Recipes for Deliciously Healthy Meals”– a much utilized gift from a native Minnesotan friend. It's packed with wholesome, tasty recipes! As my daughter does not care for blueberries, which the original recipe calls for (and delicious as is), I came up with a couple slight variations. And so, as is the case with many a recipe, here is my tweaked version of Molly’s.
The “wild” rice used in this recipe is actually a delicious cultivated rice, grown in man-made paddies that you’ll find in most grocery stores. (Trader Joes carries it). “True” wild rice grows naturally in Minnesota and can be found in specialty stores and online, but it’s more expensive and not as “chewy”, which is the preferred texture in this salad. Fun Fact: Wild or cultivated, it's not really "rice" -- it's a nutritious, gluten free grain that comes from a grass.
Packed with all sorts of vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein, this healthy salad makes for a great light, gluten free, vegan dinner as well as a satisfying side salad!
KALE, WILD RICE AND ORANGE SALAD
Makes about 10 cups
Easy – Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, (& Nut Free option)
Prep and cook time: About 1 hour. Optional: Additional 1 hour to rest for flavors to meld.
INGREDIENTS FOR SALAD
- 1 ½ cups wild rice, rinsed and drained
- 1 bunch dinosaur kale (or 8-10 ounces baby kale leaves)
- 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
- 4 green onions (scallions), finely sliced (use entire onion – white and green parts)
- 1 cup raw pecans, toasted lightly then chopped
- 8-10 small (mandarin) oranges (or 4-5 large (naval) oranges)
INGREDIENTS FOR DRESSING
- 4 tablespoons walnut oil (or premium olive oil)
- 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 8 tablespoons orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed)
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste (don’t skimp)
- Cook wild rice -- Bring 6 cups salted water to a boil, add rice and return to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 30-45 minutes (longer if necessary). NOTE: wild rice can cook at different times depending on the particular rice so start checking at 25 minutes, and then every 5-10 minutes until rice is tender to the bite, but still a bit chewy (many of the grains should be cracked open a little ). Drain rice in mesh strainer and set aside to cool.
- While rice is cooking --
- Remove and discard the stems from kale leaves. Chop the kale and place in large bowl. “Massage” the kale leaves – take handfuls of kale and squeeze in your fists until the “crunchy” sound is mostly gone and the leaves turn darker green.
- Chop the red pepper and green onions and add to kale.
- Peel and section the oranges then and cut into pieces about ¾” in size. Set aside.
- Lightly toast the pecans in a pan on the stove. Watch closely so they don’t burn. Set aside.
- Mix together all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to thoroughly combine (or whisk in a bowl).
- Once rice has cooled a bit --
- Add rice to the kale bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat everything. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Shortly before serving, taste and adjust any seasonings again (if necessary) -- salt, pepper, orange juice and/or vinegar. Add the oranges and toss salad.
- Divide into individual servings and garnish with toasted pecans.
NUT-FREE OPTION: To keep the crunch, swap out pumpkin seeds for pecans.
NOTES: This salad is delicious served right away, but letting it rest in the fridge, covered, for at least an hour allows the flavors to meld. This salad keeps up to 2 days refrigerated, but best within a day.