Wonderful Wild Rice
Despite its name, wild rice is not actually rice but an aquatic grass from the genus Zizania. It grows wild in shallow lakes, rivers and streams in Northern Canada or is cultivated or paddy-grown in the US. Canada is the largest producer of wild rice, especially my home province Saskatchewan, as well as Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario. Minnesota and California are the major producers in the US. Growing wild rice is challenging and not suitable for large-scale production which is why it costs significantly more than regular white or brown rice.
Wild rice has a chewy texture and distinct nutty, roasted flavor that when cooked can be eaten alone or combined with other ingredients. It is available as plain wild rice, mixed with other blends of rice, made into flour or pasta. A nutritious whole grain, wild rice is a source of protein, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc.
Preparing Wild Rice
Wash wild rice in a wire strainer and rinse with cold water.
Combine 4 cups of water or gluten-free broth with 1 cup wild rice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer approximately 40-60 minutes, until the rice kernels have burst their shells and fluffed out. Note: the volume of rice increases 3-4 times.
Cooked rice can be used in casseroles, salads or side dishes. It can also be combined with white or brown rice.
Leftover wild rice can be kept in the refrigerator for one week or frozen (cool rice before freezing).
Here is a delicious wild rice and chicken salad recipe:
Wild Rice and Chicken Salad
- 2 cups wild rice
- 4-5 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
- 2 medium Gala or other sweet apples, chopped and not peeled
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 1 cup craisins
- 1/3 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
Cook rice per package instructions.
Grill or bake chicken and cut into bite size pieces.
Combine rice, chicken, apples, craisins, pecans, onion and pepper in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and oil.
Pour dressing over rice mixture, toss and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve at room temperature.
Article by Shelley Case, RD
Shelley Case, RD is a consulting dietitian, speaker and author of the national best seller Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. See www.glutenfreediet.ca