This delightful salad came together as I tried to dress up some rather plain rice. I was using a wild rice blend, similar to this one from Bob’s Red Mill, and it is delicious– nutty and toothsome and flavorful on its own. However, since it was to be a side for some roasted squash, I thought taking it one step farther, flavor-wise, was a good idea. When making couscous, I generally add herbs and sometimes dried fruit to make it more special. Using that logic and what I had in the cupboard, I came up with this salad. The sweetness of the dried fruit and bright citrus flavor of the tangerine made the whole meal more interesting, providing good contrast to the nutty rice and squash and good texture, as well. We ate it warm for dinner with our squash and then cold for lunch the next day; I liked it both ways. You could add some sliced chicken to make it more of an entree salad, or serve it as a side as I did. I think dried cherries or cranberries would work just as well here; I may make this again this week with cherries instead of raisins and pear in place of– or with!– the oranges.
Depending on the citrus you choose, you may want to try supreming the fruit instead of slicing it. I used tangerines with almost no seeds and very thin membranes, so slicing them worked well. For fruit with tough membranes, take a look at this helpful guide from The Kitchn on segmenting citrus.
Warm Rice Salad with Dried Fruit
- 3 c. cooked wild rice blend
- 1/2 c. dried apricots, chopped
- 1/4 c. raisins
- 2 clementines, mandarins or oranges (preferably seedless), rinds removed, sliced or segmented
- 2 T. fresh mint, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 T. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. honey
- salt & pepper
- 1/4 c. canola oil
Cook the rice according to package or bin directions. You can use a blend like I did, wild rice, Black Japonica, brown rice or any other you enjoy.
While the rice cooks, prepare the dried fruit and citrus and make your dressing. For the dressing, whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, honey, salt & pepper; slowly stream in the oil as you continue to whisk. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. This is intended to be a small amount of dressing, just to add flavor and a bit of moisture.
When the rice is cooked, add the dried fruit, mint, half of the citrus slices/segments and dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately, garnished with the remaining citrus.