I realize that the days of cherries may have passed us by...but I did manage to score a lovely package of organic cherries the other day and tried this salad, inspired by a recipe from the lovely Heidi Swanson. When it's this hot outside (and by this hot I mean waaaay into the 100s), I cannot eat hot food. In fact, it's hard to eat any food at all. But I was inspired by the colors of the bright red cherries against the black wild rice. And the prospect of having plenty of leftovers for me for lunch.
It was everything I hoped for--full bodied and filling, but with a certain fresh tang from the crushed cherry dressing and arugula. I'd try it again with Santa Rosa plums which abound in the markets now. In fall, it would be excellent with dried cranberries, cherries, or fresh figs. In winter I would eat it with fresh mandarin oranges. And in the spring it would be excellent with strawberries. It's just the sort of salad that you can play around with. In fact, it may demand it. Switch out the nuts, the grain, the cheese or the greens to make it uniquely yours, and to suit the season. And guess what? It's gluten free.
Wild Rice and Cherry Salad
Loosely Adapted from Super Natural Every Day
This versatile grain salad will work in any season by simply swapping out whatever fruit is available at your farmers' market. It makes for a lovely lunch, or light main course.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: serves 4
1 cup uncooked wild rice
4 handfuls wild arugula
2/3 cup toasted pecans or walnuts
1 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted
1/2 cup toasted walnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar, or white wine vinegar
sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, or goat cheese
1. Rinse wild rice. Bring 4 cups of lightly salted water to a boil. Add wild rice, reduce heat, cover and simmer over low heat until rice is tender, about 40-45 minutes. Drain rice and set aside.
2. While rice is cooking mash 1/3 of the cherries in a jar with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon. Add walnut oil and vinegar, close lid tightly and shake until combined. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to season and taste.
3. Tear remaining cherries in half. Toss wild rice with the arugula, most of the pecans, and most of the remaining cherries until evenly combined. Add a generous splash of the dressing and toss again. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or dressing if necessary.
4. Top salad with remaining cherry halves and pecans, and crumbled cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.