Friends, prepare yourselves for the ultimate flavor-packed, comfort-filled, fall-infused side: wild rice salad! This dish is our favorite kind: low effort, BIG reward! It’s simple to prepare but doesn’t skimp on flavor (hello mushrooms, hazelnuts, cranberries, and fresh herbs!)
Not only that, but it can be served warm or at room temperature — perfect for when those other holiday dishes are running a bit behind (please tell us we’re not the only ones)! Did we mention there are just 10 simple ingredients required? Let us show you how it’s done!
What is Wild Rice?
Wild rice is a gluten-free whole grain that’s dark in color (hello, antioxidants) and has a nutty, earthy, bold flavor. Compared to other grains, it’s rich in protein, fiber, and an amino acid called lysine. It’s also a good source of minerals and B vitamins.
Fun fact about wild rice? It’s the official state grain of Minnesota, which is part of the Great Lakes region. The grain comes from a grass that grows in shallow water (like lakes and streams).
While now mostly grown commercially in paddy fields, wild rice was originally harvested in canoes by Native American tribes in the Great Lakes region. The grain is considered a sacred part of their culture and is used to make stews, stuffing, sweet treats, and more.
Wild rice was also an important grain in ancient China, but it’s now the stem of the wild rice plant that’s more commonly enjoyed there (source).
How to Make Wild Rice Salad
Because of its bold flavor, we find wild rice is most delicious when combined with other sweeter varieties of rice. And we know we’re not the only ones because grocery stores seem to carry wild rice blend more often than wild rice on its own. So for the sake of accessibility and deliciousness, we used a wild rice blend in this recipe.
The recipe starts with cooking the rice in a saucepan until tender and fluffy. Wild rice blend cooks similarly to brown rice but requires slightly less water. Once simmering, it cooks for 30-45 minutes, allowing plenty of time to prepare the other components of the salad!
Sautéed mushrooms and onions provide a savory, naturally sweet base that makes you want to go back for more! We recommend chopping the mushrooms rather than slicing them because more of their surface touches the pan, allowing for more caramelization and a better texture. Adding salt and pepper draws out moisture from the mushrooms and adds flavor.
The remaining components of the salad include dried cranberries for sweetness, roasted hazelnuts for crunch, and a beautifully balanced combination of parsley, mint, and oregano for a fresh, herby touch.
We hope you LOVE this wild rice salad! It’s:
& Easy to prepare!
It’s the perfect side for fall, Thanksgiving, and beyond! Enjoy it paired with nearly any main, including our Best Whole Roasted Cauliflower (5 Ingredients!), Moroccan Lentil-Stuffed Eggplant, or Lemon Baked Salmon with Garlic Dill Sauce (20 Minutes!).
More Delicious Thanksgiving Sides
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Servings 6 (~2/3-cup servings)
- 1 cup uncooked wild rice blend (we like Lundberg brand // 1 cup uncooked yields ~3 cups cooked)
- 1 ¾ cup water
- 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced (1 onion yields ~2 cups or 320 g chopped // or sub thinly sliced leek — white part only)
- 8 ounces roughly chopped cremini mushrooms (~3 ½ cups chopped)
- 3/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper (plus more salt to taste)
- 3 Tbsp chopped dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts (see notes if using raw // or sub pecans)*
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, water, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 30-45 minutes or until tender and water is absorbed. Remove from heat, stir, cover again, and set aside.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat a large rimmed skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onions and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until they start to soften. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until all the liquid from the mushrooms is cooked out and the mixture starts to brown. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.
To a large serving bowl (or the pan you used for cooking if it’s large enough), add the cooked rice, sautéed onions and mushrooms, cranberries, roasted hazelnuts, parsley, mint, and oregano. Stir until well combined.
Taste and adjust as needed, adding more salt to taste, olive oil for richness, cranberries for tartness, hazelnuts for crunch, or herbs for brightness. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Best when fresh. Leftovers will keep stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Not freezer friendly.
*If using raw hazelnuts, roast them on a bare baking sheet at 300 F (150 C) for 12-14 minutes or until they have released some of their oils and the skins begin cracking.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
Serving: 1 two-third-cup serving Calories: 211 Carbohydrates: 31.5 g Protein: 5.1 g Fat: 8.2 g Saturated Fat: 1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g Monounsaturated Fat: 5.4 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 298 mg Potassium: 220 mg Fiber: 3.8 g Sugar: 6.2 g Vitamin A: 164 IU Vitamin C: 4.7 mg Calcium: 24.4 mg Iron: 1.4 mg