Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Orange Balsamic Drizzle

wild rice pilaf with roasted vegetables in wooden bowl

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.

wild rice pilaf in 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.

Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Orange Balsamic Drizzle
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
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.
Author:
Recipe type: Holiday Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 10-12 servings
Ingredients
Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 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
Pilaf
  • 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
Instructions
Vinaigrette
  1. 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.
Pilaf
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and line sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

wild rice pilaf wth roasted vegetables
Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, Broccolini, Carrots, and Cauliflower – I made this version without the dressing

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!

7 Healthy Holiday Recipes (GF, dairy-free)

salad with fresh figs, avocado, marcona almonds

I wanted to share some of my favorite healthy holiday recipes with you. My definition of a great recipe is one that is simple (not too many ingredients), wholesome (fresh, whole foods), and hearty (nutrient dense, nourishing), and one that you feel good about feeding to your whole family.

In the fall, we are blessed with an abundance of wonderful ingredients– a true harvest time. Fresh rosemary and thyme, fragrant apples, juicy pomegranate seeds, sweet winter squashes, brussels sprouts, and dark leafy greens are just some of my fall favorites! With Halloween and the World Series behind us, it’s time to start planning some holiday get togethers and make some delicious, homemade food that nourishes the body and soul.

Here are 7 of my favorite holiday recipes that I gathered together for you to try. If something isn’t available in your part of the world, feel free to substitute another ingredient. Please share your cooking adventures in the comments section of each recipe or at the end of this post. I look forward to hearing from you!

Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing is amazing to bring to a potluck or include in a festive holiday menu:

salad with fresh figs, avocado, marcona almonds

Creamy Corn Soup with Dulse is comforting, soothing, and super sweet. Pan-fried dulse is crispy and savory garnish to compliment the sweet soup. This soup satisfies the sweet tooth without eating any refined sugar!

photo of creamy corn soup

Wild-Caught Salmon with Fresh Rosemary is a great alternative to turkey, or can be prepared the day after Thanksgiving to go with all of the leftover side dishes!

photo of wild caught maple roasted salmon, green beans, and rice

Maple-Roasted Roasted Brussels Sprouts are a hit with adults and children alike!

Photo of Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Creamy Polenta with Sweet Corn is a great gluten-free side dish instead of stuffing! Leftovers can be heated up for breakfast (like old-fashioned grits) after your holiday meal.

photo of creamy corn polenta

This zesty Cranberry Sauce wth Orange and Ginger is so much better than canned varieties and you can use leftover sauce for a cranberry-apple pie or to add to turkey sandwiches!

photo of cranberry sauce with orange slice

For a sweet treat that is easy to make ahead, try these dairy-free Chocolate-Coco Truffles:

photo of chocolate coco truffles

Enjoy these recipes and others found in the recipes section of my blog. You can type in a search word (like salad, soup, or avocado) and recipes on my site containing those keywords will come up.

Interested in learning how to cook and meeting others that love healthy food? I teach group classes in Austin, Texas (see schedule) as well as private classes, workshops, and dinner parties (contact me below for more information). If you have a group of friends that you’d like to host at your home for a cooking class or dinner party, I’d love to help you with that.

images for healthy holiday recipes

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Join the Cook Love Heal Community!

Join the Cook Love Heal Community, and I’ll send you my Natural Health Starter Kit for free and you’ll find out about the online course as soon as it is available. I’ll also keep you updated with amazing recipes, yoga ideas and tips for how to live a balanced life. Look forward to meeting you!

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