Wild Rice Pilaf is a Nutrient-Dense Holiday Dish!
If you’re needing something to bring to a holiday party or have on hand for lunches, try this Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Orange Balsamic Drizzle. It is nutrient-dense, plant-based side dish that is as delicious as it is beautiful.
Whenever November rolls around I am ready to make this dish. It is full of so many fall and winter ingredients that I look forward to having the whole year long!
Wild rice pilaf is hearty and flavorful with baby arugula and pecans added at the end for freshness and crunch. Serve as a side dish or spoon into baked acorn squash halves.
What exactly is Wild Rice?
Wild rice is the fruit from a grass from the Zizania genus and is technically not related to rice. It was a traditional staple food of many Native Americans and was considered a gift from the Great Spirit. Read below an excerpt from Eden Foods’ story about wild rice.
Wild rice is not just a traditional food, or source of income for Native Americans. It is a gift from the Great Spirit, and a sacred component of their culture, honored in their ceremonies and embedded in their way of life. Wild rice stands are also a vital part of the ecology of thousands of lakes and rivers. As the grain ripens and during harvesting, some of the grain falls into the lakebeds, reseeding the beds for next year’s harvest. The rice stands provide a unique habitat for thousands of waterfowl, fish and other wildlife who rely on it as a food, and they are an important nesting haven.
- 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ cup yellow or red onion, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
- 3 cups water or vegetable stock
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 2 cups sweet potato, ½ inch cubes
- 1 cup baby arugula
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pecan pieces, toasted
- In a medium bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together first 5 ingredients, then whisk in olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400° F and line sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Heat medium saucepan with a lid over medium heat for a minute. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, celery, and ¼ teaspoon sea salt, and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
- Gently stir in wild rice being careful not to break the grains. Add water or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover and turn to low. Let simmer for 45 minutes, then turn heat off and let sit with the lid on for 15 more minutes.
- In a medium bowl, toss sweet potato cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Spread evenly on sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes, or until starting to brown. Turn sweet potatoes with a spatula halfway through to prevent burning. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Place rice into a large bowl and toss with roasted sweet potatoes, baby arugula, parsley, dried cranberries, and toasted pecans. Plate wild rice pilaf on a platter or shallow bowl and drizzle with vinaigrette just before serving.
How to Make Variations on this Recipe
Feel free to vary the vegetables and nuts and use what you have on hand. I have tried this recipe with roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccolini, and butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes and really loved it. Instead of pecans, you could use toasted pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) or walnuts. Let me know in the comments how you made yours or share a photo on Instagram with #cookloveheal tag.
Taking the time to make nourishing meals during the holidays will help to keep you and your loved ones healthy throughout the cold winter months. Here is a collection of healthy holiday recipes from my blog that I put together last year. Enjoy!