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:
Throw a handful into a slow simmering soup or stew. Add more liquid if needed. Try this Chicken and Wild Rice Soup With Mushrooms.
Serve topped with stir-fried veggies
Stir half cup cooked wild rice in your favorite muffin recipe. Great with nuts and raisins!
Mix with dried cherries, blue or feta cheese and sprinkle over salad greens.
Try it on its own as a salad with added fruit, chopped veggies, and a light vinaigrette dressing. Here's a Wild Rice Salad with Oranges and Currants and another Wild Rice Salad with Pecans and Cranberries.
Enjoy as a hearty breakfast cereal - try it with milk, non-dairy milk, maple syrup and pecans or walnuts, or add to hot oatmeal
Stuff it into baked squash or pumpkin like in this Wild Rice Stuffed Mini Pumpkins.
Try it as a replacement for a stuffing dish
Use it just about anywhere you use brown rice
Cook together with brown rice. Try this Brown and Wild Rice with Herbs and Garlic.
Cook separately but add to other cooked grains such as millet, quinoa, different varieties of brown rice and white Basmati rice
Make it as a side dish with sautéed onions and slivered toasted almonds. Try this Wild and Brown Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms.
Stuff it in a chicken - be sure to cook until fully done!
Try it with sautéed apples and pork chops
Here's a great way to use leftover turkey in this Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole.
I also enjoy the Arrowhead Mills Wild Rice Pancake and Waffle mix. You may want to give it a try too.
Are you wild about wild rice? Good! I'd love to know your favorite way to indulge.