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Take a Walk on the Wild Side (of Rice)

turkey_wild_rice_cass Rice is rice, right? (Hmmm…say that three times fast!) Well, maybe not - at least not when it comes to wild rice. Contrary to the name, wild rice is not a member of the rice family at all. It belongs to a group of grasses that are native to North America. But, like rice, it grows in water; specifically, the shallow waters and gentle streams of fresh-water lakes found mainly around the Great Lakes. Much of the wild rice available these days is actually cultivated rather than harvested from growing wild. Considered a whole grain, wild rice has a nutty, earthy flavor and a rice-like shape. One cup of cooked wild rice contains just 1 gram of fat, no saturated fat or cholesterol, only 5 mg of sodium, 3 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. It delivers important B vitamins and minerals, namely magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. And just like rice, it's gluten free. Wild rice is perfect for pilafs, salads, soups and stuffing. But it doesn't end there. I love it in pancakes, muffins and bread too! To begin, cook up a batch and keep it on hand. Here's your basic recipe:

Basic Wild Rice

  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 cup thoroughly washed wild rice
Bring water to rolling boil. Add salt and wild rice. Bring to a boil again, reduce heat, cover and simmer over low heat for 50 to 60 minutes. The kernels will open up and become tender. If any excess water remains, drain it and return to heat for just a moment to dry the grains; season as desired. If you like a chewy texture, cook it a little less time. You can also bake wild rice. Here's how: Add 1 cup washed rice to 2 cups water or broth in a casserole dish. Bake at 350°F for one hour. Check and add more liquid if needed. Continue baking another 1/2 hour. Remember to check the package of your wild rice for instructions on cooking; some manufacturers have removed the hard bran layer, so the cooking time could be reduced. Here are some of my favorite ways to use wild rice. Remember to wash it well first: Are you wild about wild rice? Good! I'd love to know your favorite way to indulge.

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bruce says …

i just saw a video from wjla tv that claimed that many of your "organic" products come from china and are inspected OVER THERE by 3rd parties. i will no longer buy produce from your stores. this is very deceptive as i never looked for a "from china" label. non- fd usda inspections won't get it for me. in spend way too much money in your stores. i do not like to be deceived. trader joe's will now get my business. sorry bruce

Timm Severud says …

Wild Rice grown commercially is not wild rice... it is genetically modified and pesticides are us to get ride of rice worms. True and tastier wild rice is hand gathered,air dried, hand parched and hand winnowed. It is not black in color, but has a green tinge to it. It is heartier tasting. It costs about $10 to $15 a pound and only available from Late September to about Thanksgiving. Buying from the harvester supports tribal communities and makes a statement about supporting the most natural form of agriculture.

Amber says …

I LOVE wild rice!!! I lived in Minnesota for a few years of my childhood and we ate lots of wild rice. My grandma still sends me some occasionally. I love, love, love it! My favorite way to eat it is in my mom's wild rice soup! It is the best! And when I got married, my mother-in-law gave me a recipe for a wonderful chicken wild rice casserole. I've put wild rice in pancakes before too and it gives the pancakes a yummy nutty flavor. Wild rice is the best!!

Elizabeth Davis says …

Thanks for this post - we love wild rice, too, and are happy when we have a chance to appreciate this native grain! An earlier poster made a great point about commercially available wild rice - fortunately there are some companies (like Eden), which do support tribal communities. It is true that this wild rice is more expensive, but the cost is well worth the quality and the social justice. Yum! Our favorite recipe is a knock-off of one shared by a friend from the Lac du Flambeau Nation. Originally, it uses venison, but we can't really get much of that here in the city, so we've substituted ground bison. Beef works well, too. I usually just throw all the bits in, so it's really a very easy recipe, but I've spelled it out here, so it's more recipe-ish: Greens & Wild Rice Soup 3 T olive oil 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped 1 lb. ground bison (or venison! or beef) 1 cup wild rice Several cups of water 1 bunch curly kale (or really any other green), stems removed & leaves chopped Sea Salt to taste Heat the olive oil over medium-high in a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the ground meat and some salt (about 1 T) and stir until it is well broken-up. Cook until it is browned. Add the rice and water - basically, you will want to make sure the rice is covered with the water, and then some. One the water boils, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer. Check periodically to make sure you have enough water. We let it cook for about 30 minutes, but sometimes it may take longer. Five to ten minutes before removing from heat, add the chopped kale. Add more salt & pepper to taste. Yum!

Stormy says …

Why do I bhteor calling up people when I can just read this!

Myra Muse says …

It has been difficult for me to find a brand of wild rice that is not contaminated by gluten during the packaging process. Could you please confirm whether or not your brand of 365 Wild Rice grown in California is gluten free? If it is not safe, can you recommend a safe option? Thank you.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MYRA - I was able to check with our Private Label team and they confirmed that there is no gluten in the facility for the 14 ounce sized bags of 365 Wild Rice. Hope this helps!

Myra says …

Thank you Nikki for your quick and reassuring response! I am looking forward to enjoying a wonderful, worry free wild rice salad tonight courtesy of Whole Foods. Yummy.

Cherie Miller says …

Do you carry boxed organic long grain and wild rice in your stores?