I developed this and brought it to a friend’s house years ago, and got such rave reviews I make it several times each fall. The earthy wild rice and beets play off of the sweet pecans and oranges, and a tangy spiced vinaigrette brings it all together. I like to pre-soak the wild rice, which cuts down on the cooking time, and have a method for cooking and draining it so that most of the water is evaporated and you don’t end up with soggy salad. Make this ahead of time, even the day before, but don’t dress it until the very end. Serving it at room temperature will highlight the flavors better than cold out of the fridge, so make sure to take it out at least a half hour before you plan to devour it.
You’ll find this to be a beautiful fall salad for your Thanksgiving table- or enjoy it throughout the season as a satisfying accompaniment to a simple roasted chicken.
Wild Rice & Roasted Beets with Candied Pecans and Mandarin Oranges
- 1 cup wild rice
- 2 medium beets
- 1 small shallot chopped
- ½ cup candied pecans coarsely chopped
- juice of ½ lemon
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup Italian parsley chopped
- 2 small Mandarin Oranges peeled, segmented and larger pieces halved
- ½ cup crumbled feta
- Soak the rice in enough water to cover it by 2 inches, and set aside overnight or for a few hours. If you forget this step, you will just need to cook the rice longer, which is fine. Follow the package directions for the length of time.
- Drain and rinse the rice, and place it in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Add a pinch of salt and simmer over medium heat until the rice is done and tender. Drain the rice in a fine mesh sieve, then return to the pot. Cover and place over low heat for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it sit another 10-15 minutes or longer while the beets finish roasting. This will ensure the extra moisture is out.
- Meanwhile, wash and trim the beets and wrap in foil. Place in a 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes depending on the size of your beets, until slightly soft when squeezed. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Make the dressing. Combine the lemon juice, sherry and shallots in a small bowl or jar with a tight fitting lid. Add in 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, honey, allspice and olive oil. Stir or shake until combined.
- Place the cooled rice in a serving bowl. Cut the beets into cubes and add them to the bowl along with the parsley, oranges, nuts and feta. Stir in the dressing, taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.