photo by Allison Johnstone
This salad was born of a series of girl’s night potluck dinners. At one such dinner a fellow attendee brought a wild rice salad she had picked up from the deli of a local natural food store, and it was tasty. A short while later on a night when I was tired and hungry, the salad had not yet left my consciousness so I trundled over to said natural food store and picked some up for dinner – it was expensive! As I ate, I ran my eyes over the list of ingredients and I thought two things; 1. I can make this, and 2. I can make this better.
I wanted this salad to be a meal in a bowl. I wanted to be able to reach into the fridge and have a quick meal of a bowl of leftovers, or throw some into a container to pack for lunch and have the salad be all I need to pack. Also, because I’m very often the only vegetarian at a gathering, I wanted the item I brought to be both nutritionally satisfying and ensure that I wouldn’t be stuck eating bread and leaves all night. The addition of chickpeas accomplishes all of these things; they stand up well in the salad, compliment the nutty flavours of the wild and brown rice, and combine with the rice to make a complete protein.
The dressing has an Asian flare, combining the sweetness of honey with the nuttiness of sesame oil. Ginger, garlic, and rice wine vinegar add some zing to the dressing, and the deep flavour of soy ties it all together. I prefer to use Bragg soy dressing because I like the lightness of it, but if you prefer a heavier soy or can’t find Bragg, it’ll do just fine. I swapped maple syrup in for the honey when I made this salad for some vegan friends, and it was lovely.
Wild Rice and Chickpea Salad Recipe:
This recipe makes a huge salad. It’ll be enough to take to a potluck and have some leftovers, or certainly enough to pack lunches to work all week. You could cut the portions in half for a smaller salad, but this is the size I always make it and it never goes to waste. If you’re making it in advance or planning to eat it all week, leave the pecans out until the last minute, otherwise they will get soggy. Be sure your rice has time to cool before you make this – cooking it the night before means this salad will come together in a flash. I like to cook the rice with 1 part rice to 1 1/2 parts water so it is a tad on the dry side. You do not want soggy rice in this salad, it needs to be able to soak up some of the dressing.
1 1/2 cups uncooked wild rice
1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed*
1 large sweet red pepper, finely diced
2 roma tomatoes, finely diced
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
2 Tbsp honey (or other liquid sweetener)
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic, grated or crushed
1/4 cup Bragg or soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp sesame oil
Cook brown and wild rice – this normally takes around 45 minutes. Set aside to cool. Whisk dressing ingredients together, and set aside. Once the rices have cooled, combine in a large bowl. Add chickpeas, red pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, and dried cranberries. Pour the dressing over the top and stir well to combine ingredients. If you are serving immediately, add the pecans, otherwise, save them and toss them through the salad at the last minute.
*I normally use dried beans, which I soak and then boil to rehydrate. Generally I find the dried beans taste much better, don’t have any added salt or preservatives, and are significantly cheaper than canned. Don’t let that stop you from using canned beans if you have some on hand or don’t have time to start from dried.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2010