Wild Rice Salad with Diced Apples, Oranges, and Toasted Pecans

wild rice salad

Wild Rice Salad with Diced Apples, Oranges, and Toasted Pecans

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

 

Wild Rice:

4 cups water or vegetable stock

1 cup wild rice, rinsed with cold water and drained

Salad:

2 small oranges

2 large apples, such as Braeburn, Fuji, or Honeycrisp, unpeeled, cored and diced small (4 cups)

2 cups toasted pecan halves, chopped roughly

1 cup dried black currants or dried cranberries

3 stalks celery, diced small (1½ cups)

⅓ cup thinly sliced green onions (green part only)

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Vinaigrette:

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (from the oranges)

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

 

In a large saucepan, bring the water or vegetable stock to a boil. Add the wild rice, stir and cover. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the wild rice pops open and is tender to the bite, 45 minutes. Transfer to a colander, rinse with cold water to cool, and drain well.

Cut the peel and pith off the oranges, then segment them by cutting between the dividers. Discard any seeds, but reserve the juice for the vinaigrette.

In a medium container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinaigrette ingredients, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the diced apple, orange segments, drained wild rice, pecans, cranberries, and green onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

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Candied Spiced Pecans

How about a weekend treat? Careful – they are addictive.

Candied Spiced Pecans

Candied Spiced Pecans

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil

1¼ cups pecan halves

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B

 

Mix together the cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, salt, and a few good grinds of pepper in a small bowl.

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute or until hot.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and the nuts, and cook for approximately 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds to cook evenly.

Working quickly, add the spice mix to the sauté pan and stir to coat. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring once every five seconds.

Add the maple syrup very carefully, as it will bubble up, stirring to coat. Allow to cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the nuts, and if they begin to smoke, turn down the heat a little and stir more often.

Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

 

Working quickly, using two forks, separate the individual nuts, then allow to cool completely. Seriously. They’re going to be hot.

 

 

Dueling Muffins.

Last night, I cooked up a batch of my double chocolate toasted almond orange zest cranberry muffins from my cookbook (in the chocolate, yes chocolate, season) to deliver to the crew at KTLA (channel 5) in the morning.

Getting ready for a warm oven:

Truth be told, I have a meeting scheduled with their makeup artist to get some makeup tips since I’ll be hitting the road filming my new show and, well, I’ll be the makeup artist. (Hey, this bald head can get shiny, what can I say?) I wanted to do something a little special for the crew because they so graciously hosted me for a morning cooking spot on March 2nd, which was a lot of fun.

To mix things up a bit, I tried subbing out the almonds with pecans. (Okay. Maybe I was toasting the almonds and got a little sidetracked and they overcooked… a bit. Like burnt popcorn. I’m not saying that’s what happened, but it is a definite possibility.)

Well, one thing I have found again and again – it’s the little mistakes in life that, if embraced, can lead to even greater things. As one of my friends from back in the day used to say, “there are no mistakes, only outtakes.” This is one of the things I love about life and love about cooking. As it turned out, pecans were a delicious substitute for almonds. Dare I say, better? Maybe.

Warm melty chocolate pecan delight:

Well, you’ll have to let me know. Idea! You whip up a batch of the muffins with toasted almonds, I’ll bring the pecan version, and we’ll discuss this with a muffin in one hand and double shot Latte in the other hand. Deal? Okay, deal. In fact, let’s shake on it.