Once Thanksgiving has passed, few of us really feel like doing a lot of cooking, yet we typically have scads of leftovers to use up. Simple recipes that call for a considerable amount of turkey tend to be the most popular.
Such is the case with this recipe for a turkey salad, which has the added benefit of incorporating wild rice another autumn food and fresh fruit. The sweetness of the fruit works well with the intense earthy flavor of the wild rice.
I ate quite a bit of wild rice growing up, as we had relatives in Minnesota who harvested it and gave away bags of it when they passed through Kansas on visits. Because wild rice just sort of showed up periodically, I could take it for granted when, in fact, it really is a delicacy both for the difficulty of its harvest and its price. My first attempt to buy it when I began paying for my own groceries was a real eye-opener.
Wild rice really isn't rice at all but the seed of a native marsh grass that has been harvested for hundreds of years by American Indians in the Northern Plains states and Canada. Its inaccessibility means that it typically is harvested from a canoe or boat and accounts for the high price. Even if wild rice weren't so precious, its strong flavor means we probably would still use only small amounts of it in recipes and combine it with actual rice.
Wild rice doesn't expand as dramatically during cooking as does actual rice, and its hard kernels require more cooking time. The ratio of water to rice should be 3-to-1, and the cooking time will be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. For that reason, it's better to do up your wild rice in a saucepan, where you have control over the heat, than to prepare it in a rice cooker.
After bringing wild rice to a boil in salted water, reduce the heat and let it simmer, covered, for the duration of the cooking time.
One of the nice things about wild rice is that if you test it for doneness and decide it has cooked enough before the water has been absorbed or has evaporated, it's OK. Because of the hard kernels, you can simply drain it and use it.
If possible, select wild rice with unbroken kernels. Fragments cook faster because the meal is exposed and can be mushy. The flavor is still there but the texture is not, and broken rice is less attractive.
Wild rice is sold in three grades. Giant, which has the longest grain, generally is the best quality. Fancy is a medium grain and select is shortest.
This recipe is from a Julee Rosso cookbook. If good fresh apricots are difficult to find this time of year, you might consider substituting apple slices.
Wild Rice Salad
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
grated zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup cooked wild rice
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons finely chopped dried apricots
8 ounces frozen French-style green beans, defrosted
8 ounces turkey breast, cooked and thinly sliced
4 fresh apricots, pitted and cut into thin wedges
In a small jar, combine the olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, mint, pepper and orange zest. Shake well and set aside.
In a medium-size bowl, combine the wild and brown rice and dried apricots, and toss well. Pour the dressing over the rice, reserving 1 tablespoon, and toss well.
In a small bowl, combine the green beans and the remaining tablespoon of dressing, and toss well to coat evenly.
Mound the rice on a large round platter and surround with the beans, sliced turkey and fresh apricots.
Makes 4 servings.