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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Cranberry and Wild Rice Salad

Nutty wild rice, dried cranberries and apricots are combined with a maple vinaigrette to create a healthy salad for your holiday table.

wild and long grain rice, dried cranberries and apricots, walnuts tossed as a salad
Cranberry and Wild Rice Salad

If you’re looking for a lighter yet delicious side dish to serve alongside your turkey this year, home cook Marcy Watson has just the thing: Cranberry and Wild Rice Salad. Easy to prepare but complex in textures and flavor, this cold salad also features crisp, tart apple; dried apricots; toasted walnuts; and a delightful maple vinaigrette.

“It looks good on a plate next to other traditional Thanksgiving Day foods, and it’s a lighter dish that’s sort of healthy,” she said.

Marcy, who lives in Chesterfield, Missouri with husband, Scott, discovered this recipe about 15 years ago. She acknowledges it’s not a familiar dish for Thanksgiving, and remembers a potluck held at her church several years ago. Marcy and Scott were behind an older couple in line, and when the elder gentleman came to Marcy’s wild rice salad, she overheard him say, “What is this? I’m not going to eat that.” She chuckled to herself and thought, “no problem; more for me.”

Wild rice certainly is a healthier option over mashed potatoes or stuffing. There are 101 calories in a 3½-ounce serving of cooked wild rice compared to 140 calories in a 4-ounce serving of traditional stuffing. Wild rice also contains vitamin B6, iron, zinc, and magnesium.

However, wild rice really isn’t rice. It’s an aquatic grass native to North America that grows abundantly in our Great Lakes region. The seeds from the grass are harvested, and the black rice that’s part of this pantry staple is referred to as “paddy rice” by the Ojibwe people.

To make Cranberry and Wild Rice Salad, which yields eight servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked wild rice

  • ½ cup dried cranberries

  • ½ cup dried apricots

  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted

  • 1 apple (recommended Granny Smith), peeled, cored and diced

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Marcy said she uses two (4-ounce) pouches of Reese Minnesota Wild Rice for the recipe. Just mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve. For the holidays, this dish easily could be made a day or two in advance.

The holidays hold strong comfort food memories for her—turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cookies, and fudge. She’ll often make her four-ingredient “desperately easy” fudge recipe as a seasonal treat.

This home cook started in high school to help her mother who sometimes worked in the evenings. Over the years, she learned to appreciate the various textures and flavors created in the kitchen.

“I never developed a hardcore fondness for cooking, but if I was going to go through the trouble, I wanted it to be pleasing to my palate,” she said. Her advice for novice cooks is to allow time to learn the recipe. “Don’t get in a hurry. I’ve made plenty of mistakes being in a hurry,” she said.



Looking for another recipe that incorporates wild rice?

My Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup is a satisfying dish for a chilly day. If you have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, substitute that for the chicken breasts.

About the blog

To make Cranberry and Wild Ric e, which yields eight servings, you’ll need these ingredients:nts:ts:s::forting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.and

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