Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wild Rice Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

Last Thanksgiving I had this side dish at my in-laws house in Minnesota and I was dumbfounded when I ate it. First of all, I loved it, but I couldn't figure out why. I loved the taste of the roasted root vegetables, and the dressing was just right, but there was a flavor in it that I couldn't figure out what it was that just made this dish seem like crack to me--and I got addicted to it.

After my father-in-law sent the me recipe, I made it and then, EUREKA! it hit me. It was the pepitas that I loved. I used to eat pepitas in Mexico all the time and I think it just reminded me of my childhood.

I've made this dish a couple of times since Thanksgiving and I've played around a little with it. First, when I make it I cut the recipe in half because the original recipe below makes a lot of wild rice salad. I use salted pepitas this way I don't have to use much salt after I combine it all, and I also omit the scallions. As for dressing, I cut it by 1/4 because again, the recipe below makes a lot, and the original one had fresh sage in it, but I omitted that, too.

This is a very satisfying side dish and it could also be a meal for a vegetarian or even a dish you can serve for lent since there is no meat involved.

INGREDIENTS (serves 8)

  • 4 cups cooked wild rice 

  • 4 small parsnips, cubed 

  • 4 small carrots, cubed 

  • 1 medium squash, cubed 

  • 6 scallions, diced 

  • ½ cup pepitas 
(Mexican prepared pumpkin seeds)
  • Olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Put the root vegetables into a large bowl. Toss to lightly coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
Place veggies in a large roasting pan and roast until soft and slightly brown on the outside, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a heavy sauté pan heat about 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the pepitas and cook, stirring and shaking the pan, until the pepitas start to "pop" and get golden brown. Remove from heat and cool.

Toss everything together with 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette (recipe below). Taste for seasoning and add more vinaigrette, if needed. Serve room temperature or cold.

Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS (makes about 2 cups of vinaigrette)

¼ cup apple cider vinegar 

  • 1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard 

  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup olive oil 
2 Tbl. honey 

  • 1 chopped shallot 

  • Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until dressing gets combined. Taste and adjust seasoning. You can also use this vinaigrette as a dressing for any salad. It's pretty good.

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