Whether you are looking for a delightful side or a filling vegetarian entree, you are going to love this Kale and Wild Rice Salad. With nutty wild rice, vibrant kale, sweet oranges, crunchy walnuts, and a tangy homemade vinaigrette, you have a salad that with perfectly balanced flavors and texture.
Wild rice is chewy, nutty, and bursting with wholesome goodness. It’s the kind of grain that fills you up without weighing you down.
To me, this makes it the perfect base for a salad.
We all know that the holiday season is approaching, and if you're anything like me, you're already on the lookout for festive holiday sides. This wild rice salad recipe fits the bill.
It's colorful, packed with flavor, and adds a touch of sophistication to any meal.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: If you're out of olive oil, you can substitute it with avocado oil or any other mild-flavored oil.
- Rice Wine Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar can also work well if you don't have rice wine vinegar on hand.
- Minced Garlic: If you're not a fan of raw garlic, try using garlic powder instead.
- Maple Syrup: Honey or agave syrup can be great alternatives.
- Dijon Mustard: You could use grainy brown mustard if you prefer.
- Sea Salt: Kosher salt or table salt works just fine.
- Ground Black Pepper: Freshly ground pepper will give you the best flavor.
- Cooked Wild Rice Blend: I like to cook wild rice in my Instant Pot for ease. Brown rice or quinoa can be used if wild rice isn't available.
- Kale: Spinach or arugula can also be used.
- Mandarin Oranges: Regular oranges or even canned (drained) mandarin oranges can be used if fresh mandarins aren't available. Dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds are great alternatives.
- Toasted Walnuts: Pecans or almonds would also pair nicely with this salad.
Step by Step
For the full recipe for cold wild rice salad with measurements, see the recipe card at the end of the post.
Tips and Tricks
- Plan Ahead: You can cook the wild rice a day before. After cooking, add a small amount of oil to the grains to prevent them from sticking. Store the grains in the fridge until you are ready to prepare the dish.
- Toasting Walnuts: Toasting walnuts really brings out their rich, nutty flavor and adds an extra layer of crunch to the salad. To make toasted walnuts, spread them out on a baking sheet. Bake them at 350°F for 7-10 minutes until they turn lightly toasted and emit a pleasant aroma. Keep an eye on them though, as they can quickly go from toasty to burnt!
- The Art of Massaging Kale: Now, this might sound a bit odd if you're new to kale salads, but trust me, it makes a world of difference! Rubbing the kale with dressing or olive oil for a few minutes makes the leaves softer. This makes them easier to eat.
- Mix it Up: Feel free to play with the flavors of both the dressing and salad. I add orange or lemon juice to the dressing for a stronger citrus taste. Green or red onion gives it a good kick. Goat cheese or feta cheese are a lovely way to finish this salad.
What is Wild Rice?
Despite its name, wild rice isn't actually rice at all. It's a protein-rich whole grain that comes from a type of grass. There are three species native to North America and another one that hails from China.
What I absolutely love about wild rice is its unique flavor and texture. It has a deliciously nutty flavor paired with a hearty, chewy texture.
How much rice does 1 cup wild rice make?
One cup of uncooked wild rice typically expands to about 3-4 cups when fully cooked. That's right, it triples or even quadruples in size!
If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. The flavors will continue to develop and intensify, making it even more delicious the next day! Just make sure to give it a good mix before serving and drizzle with more oil if you like.
More Rice Recipes to Try
- Experience the wholesome goodness of our Wild Rice Stuffing, a heartwarming dish filled with earthy flavors and textured surprises.
- Add an exotic twist to your dinner with our Turmeric Rice, a vibrant and aromatic recipe that brings a golden touch to any meal.
- Dive into the rich, nutty flavors of our Wild Rice Pilaf, a versatile side dish that pairs beautifully with almost any main course.
- For a comforting, family-friendly favorite, try our Cheesy Chicken and Rice recipe - it's a delicious blend of creamy, cheesy goodness with tender chicken and fluffy rice.
Kale and Wild Rice Salad
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon dijon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 cups cooked wild rice
- 5 ounces kale
- 2 mandarin oranges peeled and separated into wedges (or one orange peeled and segmented)
- ¼ cup toasted walnuts
- Make the dressing by combining oil, vinegar, garlic, maple syrup, dijon, salt and pepper in a blender. Process until smooth.
- Place the kale in a bowl and massage with a tablespoon of the dressing for 2 minutes. If you don’t want to get the dressing on your hands, just massage it with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Combine cooled rice and kale in a large bowl. Top with dressing and allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Add oranges and walnuts, and serve.