Wild Rice Salad with Chanterelles
I think salads are the best thing to have after a workout. And I make one for myself every time I get back home from the gym. I practise yoga; it’s not something I talk about a lot, I don’t share my yogic journey on the blog or social media, but lately I’ve been thinking that maybe I should. It’s a big part of my life, so it would only be natural to do so. While I wouldn’t exactly call yoga a workout, its share of physical practice can be pretty intense. And usually, after a class, I feel so good, healthy and light, that I just couldn’t have a heavy meal afterwards. And while I don’t follow one specific diet and instead listen to my body for what it needs in order to be balanced and happy, I usually go for a vegan or vegetarian meal after a class.
A little while ago, my blog got a pretty harsh critique on a social media outlet which threw me off and made me lose my confidence a bit. As some of you may have noticed, I stopped posting for a while, I experienced a momentary loss of zest for chasing ingredients, cooking them up and sharing them here and instead I started questioning whether what I’m doing is relevant or valuable at all. And then, I simply noticed this space was created where the questioning, the self-criticism and the lack of drive were allowed to just be. Then, slowly, I got over it. In retrospect, it was really good to stop and question my work, it brought about new answers for me. Did my yoga practice help me get through this? Yes, definitely. Will I still find rude, negative and hateful comments tough to digest? Probably. Did I still keep my yoga practice going through my so called writing and posting drought? Yes. Did I still make and devour nice meals after my classes? Yes, you bet. And this particular salad was a life saver. Well, more like a mojo saver.
I don’t know what kind of movement or exercise you’re into, but whatever it is, I promise this is a great post-workout salad that will love your body in the most nourishing of ways, it will keep you full without leaving you feeling heavy and it’s got so much soulful flavours in it, it’s a delight for the palate. It starts off with some nice wild rice boiled in water that’s been infused with bay leaf and thyme sprigs, a handful of sautéed chanterelles, arugula, some dried fruit (whatever you have on hand), toasted pecans or walnuts and a nice oniony balsamic vinaigrette. It’s up to you if you want to keep this vegan or not; if not, add some crumbled goat cheese for added texture and flavour. The great part of this salad is that it uses wild rice, which is not in fact rice, but the seed of a grass, making it one of the healthiest, fiber filled foods you can get. The downside to wild rice it is that it’s not easy to find and it’s also quite expensive, but you can always use brown rice as a substitute.
Wild Rice Salad with Chanterelles, Arugula, Dried Fruit & Pecan Nuts
For the salad:
250g/1 cup wild rice, rinsed under cold running water and drained
2 tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
1 bay leaf
A couple of fresh thyme sprigs
2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
One garlic clove, crushed
450g/1 pound chanterelles, cleaned off with a wet brush, dried and chopped
60g/½ cup pecan nuts or walnuts, pan-fried until fragrant
60g/½ cup dried fruit (dried apricots, raisins, cranberry or whatever you have available)
Two large handfuls arugula salad, washed and dried
60g/½ cup crumbled goat cheese, optional
In a medium saucepan bring 1L/4 cups of water to a boil, along with the bay leaf and the fresh thyme sprigs. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, add the wild rice and simmer for about 30-40 minutes, until it is chewy and some of the grains have burst open. Stop cooking when the grains are tender. When the rice is done, pour it into a strainer to drain off any extra liquid. Fluff the rice with a fork, then add it to a large salad bowl, allowing it to cool.
In a medium sized skillet, heat the 2 Tblsp olive oil along with the garlic clove, then add the chopped chanterelles and cook for 5-6 minutes, until lightly browned. Discard the garlic clove, drain any excess liquid from the pan, allow them to cool, then add the mushrooms to the bowl with the rice.
For the vinaigrette:
60ml/½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 Tblsp balsamic vinegar
1 small shallot or half a larger one, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds, pan-fried until fragrant and popping
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a jar or a cup, mix all ingredients and shake or whisk until well combined.
Assembling the salad:
Place the dried fruit and the toasted nuts on top of the cooked rice and sautéed chanterelles. Pour the vinaigrette and mix gently to combine. Top with arugula and goat cheese, if using. Serve right away!