Wild rice tossed with vegetables like roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes offers a nutritious, gluten free, dairy free and vegan way to enjoy grains with a meal or as a meal.
There's only so much quinoa you can eat. I've attempted to eat it for breakfast with spinach and eggs. I've prepared it Mediterranean style for lunch. I've even stuffed it into calamari for a filling dinner. In the gluten free world of grains, I've become a bit myopic. There are other alternatives out there, and I decided to finally branch out and get to know more gluten free grains, starting with wild rice.
First, I must correct myself. Wild rice is not a grain. It's aquatic grass. Yes, grass that grows in few feet high water in the US. I was able to buy it locally grown in CA. You'll also find it growing in Minnesota as well. Given it looks a lot like rice, everyone calls it rice, and I'll continue to do so since aquatic grass doesn't quite have the same ring.
Now that what know what to call it, let me tell you about how good it is for you. It's above quinoa on the protein scale, and a great source of fiber, zinc, iron, B6 and magnesium. It's high in antioxidants and easier than most grains to digest. Now is probably a good time to also mention that it tastes really good. It has a nutty flavor and a great chewiness to it.
It's easy enough to cook in some boiling water or broth, and then you just need to let it simmer and absorb. It's done when the wild rice begins to open up a bit and sprout.
Throw your favorite fall vegetables in with it, and you have yourself a nutritious and satisfying meal that can also make a great Thanksgiving side dish for your gluten free friends.
Fall Vegetable Wild Rice
1 cup wild rice
1 cup sweet potatoes, scrubbed, trimmed and diced (you can also substitute with squash)
1 cup brussels sprouts, tough stems and outer leaves removed and quartered
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon raw honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with a silpat or spray with cooking oil. Toss the sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts in olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and cook for about 40 minutes or until softened and slightly brown.
Meanwhile rinse the rice in a strainer and cook according to package instructions. It's usually about a 3:1 ratio of liquid to rice and you can use water or vegetable broth. Plan on about 45 minutes for the rice to cook. When the rice begins to sprout, then it's done.
Mix the honey or agave nectar, orange juice, vinegar and walnut oil, seasoning as necessary.
Place the wild rice and vegetables in a large bowl and then coat with dressing and serve.