December 19th, 2011

Wild Rice Salad With Oranges & Roasted Beets

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Serves 4
Time: 10 minutes once all ingredients are prepared, but more like 3 hours if not
Active time: 15 minutes

Wild Rice Salad With Oranges & Roasted Beets

It’s been awhile since I shared a salad recipe. For some reason, cheesecake seems to get more “likes” than salad. But I wish it didn’t! This one is from Appetite For Reduction, and it’s the perfect time for it. Beets are still abundant and citrus, although imported, is in season. This recipe is a cooking lesson unto itself — you’ll learn a quick and yummy way to prepare roasted beets with no oil, how to create beautiful gems of orange segments and how to toast sesame seeds. Making it once will give you a few skills that will last a lifetime and you will never have to read the recipe again. But educational merits aside, it’s also incredibly delicious. A wonderful combo of earthy, sweet, and tangy with a little Asian flair.

And hey, if you’re just in the market for a really simple and tasty salad dressing, the vinaigrette is pretty amazing on everything!

Recipe Notes:

~For time management purposes, prepare the beets and the wild rice the night before or a few hours before so that they have ample time to cool. But if you want to make everything on the same night, it actually tastes pretty good warm, too. Though the key word is “warm,” not “hot.”

~Wild rice has an alluring earthy flavor, but the price can be not so alluring. If your budget isn’t feeling wild about it, go for a wild rice blend instead. That’s got some long grain brown rice thrown in to the mix, but you still get that wild rice taste, texture and color.

2 cups cooked wild rice, cooled
1/4 cup currants
2 cups red leaf lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
1 navel orange
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 lb roasted tin foil beets, cooled

One recipe Orange Sesame Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

First prepare the orange segments. Slice a thin layer off the top and bottom of the orange, then place the orange right side up on the cutting board and simply slice the peel downward, using a chef’s knife and following the natural curve of the orange. A little of the white part (called the “pith”) is okay, just try to get as much orange as you can. Then slice the orange widthwise and cut each piece into 3/4 inch segments.

Then toast the sesame seeds. Preheat a small, heavy bottomed pan over low/medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and stir often for about 2 minutes. They should be toasting up by then (if not, then raise the heat). Use a spatula to toss continuously for another minute or so, until they are varying shades of toasty brown. Remove from pan ASAP to prevent burning.

Pour the dressing into a large mixing bowl. Add wild rice, currants and lettuce. Using tongs, toss to coat. Add oranges and sesame seeds, and toss again. Lastly, fold in the beets. Serve.

Sesame Orange Vinaigrette

Serves 4

This dressing is heavenly; fruity, toasty, spicy and tangy. Toasted sesame oil is kind of a godsend for dressings because it has so much flavor and a little goes a long way.

Make sure your sesame oil is labeled “toasted sesame oil.” Toasting the seeds brings out a lot of bold flavor, where regular sesame oil might just fall flat. It’s usually found in the oil section of the supermarket, although sometimes it can be found in the Asian aisle.

3/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 2 to 3 naval oranges)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon hot chili sauce, like Sriracha
1 teaspoon microplaned or finely minced ginger

Vigorously mix together all ingredients. Just mix them right into a measuring cup so as not to make too many dishes. If you’re using it for a grain salad, you can also mix it directly into the large mixing bowl that you will use to prepare your salad. Keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed container until ready to use.

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