Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wild Rice with Orange, Spinach and Pecans

This is a wonderful vegetarian main course salad, resplendent with fruits and nuts. I have used a nutty mix of    long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, Wehani, Black Japonica and wild rice from Lundberg and cooked it in vegetable broth for additional flavor. Sweet navel oranges and baby spinach combine very well with the hearty rice and provide freshness in every bite. For crunch I have added these super delicious, caramelized and cheesy pecans. These pecans are very addictive and you have to restrain yourself from popping them in your mouth while you are preparing the salad. The best solution would be to make them right before serving with a few minutes to spare for cooling them.The dressing is a simple combination of orange zest, white balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and olive oil, which marries all the ingredients.

Wild Rice with Orange, Spinach and Pecans

1 cup Lundberg wild rice blend [any mix of different types of rice including wild rice, but excluding white rice, since it has a different cooking time]
1 large navel orange
2 cups organic baby spinach
3 skinny scallions
2/3 cup pecans
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese + more to serve

Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  1. Cook the rice as per package instructions. Typically the ratio is 1 cup rice to 2 cups stock or water. I used vegetable broth instead of water to give the salad more flavor. If you are using water or unsalted broth, add ¼ teaspoon salt to the rice while cooking. And it takes about 50 minutes to cook the rice via the absorption method.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lay out the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven for 3 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, melt the butter and add the 1/8 teaspoon salt, chili flakes and agave nectar to the butter and mix. Remove the slightly toasted pecans from the oven and toss them with the butter mixture. Spread them out again on the baking sheet and sprinkle the 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese over the pecans so that they are well coated. Place the tray back in the middle rack of the oven and toast for another 4 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Once the pecans cool, the parmesan cheese will stick to the pecans and form a crust.
  4. Remove the skin from the orange and separate the flesh into segments.
  5. Finley chop the scallions, both white and green parts.
  6. Place the washed and dried spinach leaves in the serving bowl. Add the hot rice to the spinach so that it wilts very slightly.
  7. Make a dressing with the zest, Dijon mustard, vinegar and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Toss the rice and spinach with the dressing. Top with the orange segments and the cheesy pecans and serve.
Serves 3 as a Main Course salad

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