Wild Rice Salad with Red Fruits

During the fall, most people tend to gravitate away from salads and towards more hearty dishes. But I'm a firm believer that salads can work year-round, and this one in particular is a great way to help fresh veggies transition into the cooler seasons.

Pieces of this salad are so summery. That gorgeous, delicate lettuce! Bright, juicy cherries and figs. Grilled corn on the cob. Basil! It's sort of like the last lingering bits of warmth that characterize early October.

But other pieces are so autumnal. Wild rice is reminiscent of Thanksgiving. Nuts are a common theme in a lot of fall food. The deeper colors suggest shortening days and a departure from the raw, bright cuisine of summer.

This salad unites summer and fall flavors using a fun and unique fig and mustard vinaigrette. It's bright and tangy, yet still hearty and sweet. All without oil thanks to the body it gets from a couple blended figs and the mustard! I think I'll be putting this dressing on absolutely everything this fall.

This salad is satisfying and filling in a way that is difficult to achieve with a more summery salad. The wild rice is chewy and hearty, and it soaks up the dressing to become so flavorful. Wild rice is one of my favorite fall ingredients, but it seems a shame to wait until Thanksgiving to use it, right??

The other star here is that gorgeous red fruit! I like to use cherries and figs, but you could just as easily incorporate red berries or whatever else you like.

This salad is really versatile, and I've made numerous versions of it over the past few weeks. If you omit the lettuce (maybe substituting kale?), it would pack great for a lunch or a potluck. Adding your protein of choice would make it a fulfilling meal. I eat occasional local cheese and have added both feta and goat cheese with great success. A big platter of this would make an interesting and eye-catching dish for entertaining.

Later in the fall, it would be fun to plate this salad in some squash halves instead of on lettuce. And it would be so tasty with pomegranate arils once we get into pomegranate season! Maybe later in the season I'll use thyme instead of basil. A later-season version of it would be gorgeous on your Thanksgiving table.

Enjoy this beauty, and enjoy these last lingering bits of sun!

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram. 

Looking for another centerpiece salad that combines greens with fruits? This Goat Cheese and Pistachio Stone Fruit Salad is so beautiful and delicious!

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)

For the Salad
  • 1 c wild rice. I love super long grains!
  • 0.25 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 c grilled corn. If you have it available, grilling full ears and then cutting of the kernels is delicious. Out of season, you may need to resort to grilling frozen corn indoors on a grill pan. Trader Joe's even sells frozen, grilled corn.
  • Big handful of cherries
  • 10-20 basil leaves
  • Head of frilly lettuce. Something like Boston, Butter, Oak, or Read Leaf. Or you can use kale or another hearty green. 
  • Handful of fresh figs
  • Handful of roasted/salted almonds
For the Dressing
  • 1-2 tbsp whole grain mustard. Learn to make your own here!
  • Couple figs
  • 1-2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar. Dark balsamic will certainly work too, but your dressing won't have that beautiful pink color from the figs.
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1.  Cook your rice as directed, adding salt to the water (it makes a huge difference in the flavor!). Usually for wild rice, it's something like 2:1 water:rice; bring it to a boil and then simmer until all the water is absorbed. Some especially long-grained types of rice may take upwards of an hour, so be aware that this may take a bit of time.
  2. Allow the rice to cool. You can serve this salad room temperature or cold; I wouldn't suggest serving it hot since the lettuce and fruits will wilt.
  3. Meanwhile, grill the corn, wash the lettuce/kale, and pit and cut up the cherries. If you're working with kale or another hearty green, cut the leaves into thin ribbons.
  4. Combine the dressing ingredients and blend. I find this is fastest with an immersion blender, but a traditional blender will work fine too. Taste and adjust as necessary, perhaps adding a bit more sweetness or a bit more tang.
  5. If you want to prep this salad in advance, I'd stop here. Store your elements separately, and just throw everything together when you're ready to eat.
  6. In large mixing bowl, combine the rice, corn kernels, dressing, and cherries. Give everything a good mix to ensure the dressing is evenly dispersed.
  7. Cut your basil into very fine ribbons using a very sharp knife and mix it in gently.
  8. Decide how you want to plate the salad. If you want it to have the salad on a bed of lettuce, lay out the lettuce leaves on a platter. Conversely, if you'd rather use kale or another hearty green, you can consider mixing it right into the salad since the sturdy leaves can hold up to the heavier ingredients.
  9. Garnish with sliced figs (I wouldn't recommend trying to mix these in, they're too delicate) and almonds. Maybe a few extra basil leaves? A few whole cherries? Make it your own creation!


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