Wild Rice, Pear, and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Walnuts

Wild Rice, Pear, and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Walnuts

From “The Whole Grain Promise: More than 100 Delicious Recipes to Jumpstart a Healthier Diet” by Robin Asbell (Running Press, 2015). Read my post about the book.

In the colder months, take a break from your usual mashed potatoes or yams and try this sweet and savory treat. Wild rice has a deep flavor that has given it a gourmet reputation, in spite of the healthfulness of the grain. If you can find true hand-harvested wild rice from the Great Lakes region, you absolutely must splurge and show off your acquisition in this delicious salad.

Serves 6 (makes about 7 cups)

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup wild rice or a rice blend
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, cubed (4 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 large scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
  • 2 medium ripe pears, cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, coarsely chopped

First, cook the wild rice. Truly wild rice and cultivated wild rice have very different cooking times. Add the water to a 2-quart pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. For hand-harvested wild rice, start checking in 20 minutes. Cultivated rice may take 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the rice is tender and just starting to split apart at the ends, drain well. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a large sheet pan, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roast for 20 minutes, stir, and then roast for 10 minutes more, depending on the size of your cubes. Let cool to room temperature. Note from Jill: My sweet potatoes, cut to about 3/4-inch dice, were tender in 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the wild rice, sweet potatoes, parsley, scallions, and pears in a large. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the wild rice mixture and toss to coat.

Serve topped with walnuts.

Keeps for 2 to 3 days, tightly covered, in the refrigerator. If you want to store it longer, wait to chop the pears until just before serving.