green bean and wild rice salad
I made this for dinner last night alongside some grilled chicken breasts. Scott thought it was more of a fall dish and I guess he’s right — wild rice and dried cranberries are decidedly autumn or even winter (gulp!) ingredients. However, while this dish could be served warm, we had it at room temperature. And in my mind, fare that can be served at room temperature automatically leans in the direction of al fresco dining, summertime and picnic foods. Bonus points if you can make the dish a day or two ahead of time, and it holds up in the fridge. This accomplishes both.
While we were eating, Scott reminded me that Minnesota, his home state, cultivates wild rice — in fact, it’s the state grain. Go figure. Incidentally, wild rice isn’t rice at all. It’s an aquatic grass, which my very own Garrison Keillor wannabe tells me used to grow on Clear Lake, behind his parents’ house. I was curious if he had ever foraged for wild rice with his brothers and sister and he shook his head, mumbling about the DNR (Department of Natural Resources). Evidently, there are a whole host of regulations and restrictions on who can harvest the rice and when — some special dispensation given to certain Native Americans and their reservations. Harsh fines and penalties abound for the unsuspecting soul trying to pilfer enough to make this salad. Instead, try your local market.
I thought it might be fun to see the wild rice when we are visiting the family later this summer, but it appears that the grasses will still be green — or “unripe”. Harvest is from mid-August through September. Whah -whah -whah.
This would be delicious with a grilled pork tenderloin or some juicy dry-rubbed chicken. And, though wild rice isn’t traditional on a 4th of July menu, it would be a heck of a lot more interesting than baked beans and cole slaw.
- 1 cup wild rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ~ 6 cups water
- 1/2 pound green beans, ends trimmed
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, chopped (reserve some oil for dressing)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives, seeds removed, quartered
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup chopped italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- 2 small cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons oil from jar of sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
- In a 3 quart saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Add green beans to water and cook for 3-4 minutes, until crisp tender.
- Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. In a medium bowl add 2-3 cups of ice and equal amounts of water.
- With tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer green beans to the ice bath to halt cooking and preserve their bright green color.
- Add rice to the green bean water and stir. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes with lid slightly askew to allow steam to escape. Strain water from rice and return rice to pot, cover with lid and set back on burner with the heat off for 20-30 minutes. Rice will steam and soften during this time.
- Remove green beans from ice bath. Dry them with paper towels. Cut green beans into bite size pieces and transfer to a large bowl.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes, scallions, red onion, kalamata olives, dried cranberries and italian parsley. Toss to combine.
- In a small bowl combine garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, oil from sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil and sherry wine vinegar. Briskly whisk to emulsify dressing. Set aside.
- Add wild rice to green bean mixture. Toss to combine. Add dressing, toss to combine. Just before serving, sprinkle salad with toasted almonds.
- This salad will hold up for several days in the refrigerator -- even with the dressing. I actually think it's better the second day. Because I like to maintain the crunch of the almonds, I typically garnish this salad just before serving.