Minnesota Wild Rice

I rinsed 1 cup of wild rice, soaked it in warm water (twice as much as the rice) overnight and a day. The following evening I emptied the rice and remaining water into a pot and added 1 more part water. In my experience 1 part wild rice to 3 part water works best. I added salt to taste and a drizzle of olive oil and lid the pot to cook for 20-25minutes on low flame. If I had not soaked them overnight, it would taken double the time to cook, closer to 45-50 minutes.

While the rice cooked, I peeled out pomegranate and got my seasonings (almond, onion and parsley) ready. I found a really descriptive, no mess method to open up pomegranate here. I follow the same steps but not in water. The water part is ingenious! You can also try cranberries/raisins instead of the pomegranate, and walnuts instead of the almonds.

Next in 1tbsp of olive oil, I sauteed the slivered almonds and sliced onions. I added the rice, 2 tbsp of lemon juice, some cracked pepper and mixed everything for a few minutes. Then I turned off the flame and folded in the pomegranate and parsley. The rice was delicious - an earthy nutty and fresh with parsley, pomegranate and lime juice.

I made a side of navy beans with Chinese seasonings (garlic, green onion, brown sugar, red chilly oil, salt, white pepper, and some all spice). I had soaked the navy beans and boiled them a day ahead, so it was fairly quick to saute up a quick side. I boiled some extra and froze them, might thaw them and blend up a dip one of these days.

Health benefits:
Wild rice is very popular in Minnesota, considered the state grain! I have friends who have farms up north where wild rice is grown. The technique to grow the rice is very intricate, with strict instructions for water depth, harvest mechanism, frost season etc. You will really appreciate the cost of the rice if you read through the painstaking process of production. Many times you will find them sold as a mixture of white, brown and wild rice, avoid those. Buy the pure wild rice, they are much more nutritious.

I recently found out that the highly nutritious grain is not actually rice, but an annual water-grass seed. It flourishes in the cold rivers and lakes of Minnesota and Canada, and was the staple diet of the Chippewa and Sioux Indians, who were native to this region.

This whole grain is high in protein and fiber, and low in calories and fat. It has four times as much vitamin E and six times as much as folate as brown rice and 10 times less the carbohydrates. Since its much more expensive, I alternate between the two, they are both good for you.


Anonymous,  July 15, 2010  

There are 2 kinds of wild rice: commercial paddy rice and wild rice. Try them both and decide what you like better.

Anonymous,  November 08, 2012  

When cooking wild rice be careful not to overcook it. Do NOT cook it until all of the grains open up and curl -- when it reaches that point it is over cooked and mushy, and has lost most of its flavor and nutrients.

Instead cook it until the grains just start to split open. Once you notice a few starting to curl you must stop the cooking process immediately. Wild rice is supposed to be firmer than actual rice and is supposed to have a nutty flavor. It should not usually stick together on its own.

A favorite "method" of mine (not really a recipe, as it changes all the time according to ingredients on hand and who might be eating it) is as follows:
Cook wild rice in a favorite flavorful broth and drain. (You can save the broth to add to a soup if you wish -- it's flavorful and a good way to capture any nutrients that left the wild rice during cooking.)
Saute up some aromatic veggies (I like onions and celery, sometimes mushrooms, too) and add to the wild rice, along with whatever seasonings smell nice together (I'm partial to sage, salt and pepper, and will usually sniff my spice jars to see what else I might want that day).
If you have meat eaters in the family who you are trying to get to eat more fiber add chopped cooked bacon -- they will LOVE it. To remain vegetarian simply keep the ingredients vegetarian.
Once all ingredients are combined put it in an oven-safe dish and bake (covered) for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until heated through and flavors have melded. If you wish, uncover for the last 5 minutes or so of baking (this will dry it out some if yours looks soupy, or if you like a "crisped" top).
Alternatively, the final cooking (the oven part) can be done in a slow cooker. This is also a handy way to hold it at a safe warm temperature for a buffet or potluck.

I've been making variations of this dish for years (5th generation Minnesota farm girl transplanted to south Texas) for various family and work group pot lucks. I love it and will continue to keep making it, but I look forward to Shweta's recipe above as well. I've been wanting to expand my flavor palate, and this looks great! Thank you!

Anonymous,  November 08, 2012  

Also look to see if the wild rice you are buying is broken or whole grain. Whole grains are nicer for dishes where the flavor and texture of the wild rice shine through, but it is more expensive. Broken wild rice is cheaper (and often in packages where you can't see the contents), and is a good choice for soups, stuffings, casseroles, or other dishes where the wild rice is blended with many other ingredients. In soups the broken grains actually help thicken the soup a little more than whole grains would.

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