1 1/2 cups wild rice
4 seedless navel oranges
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed of its fronds and stems
1 cup chopped, shelled pistachios
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Make ahead: Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Save time: Use 5 1/4 cups cooked wild rice; skip steps 1 and 5.
1. Pour the wild rice into a large saucepan, then cover it with a generous amount of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat a bit and simmer steadily until tender, between 30 and 55 minutes, depending on the varietal and the grains’ attendant moisture content. Check the package for more information.
2. Make orange supremes from those oranges. Cut off a small slice off of each fruit’s top and bottom so the round fruit can stand steadily on the counter. Use a sharp paring knife to cut the rind off the flesh in long arcs, starting at the top and following down along the natural curve of the fruit. Cut far enough into the flesh to remove the white pith but not so far as to damage the pulp. Once peeled, hold the fruit in one hand over your serving bowl, then use that paring knife to cut between the flesh and the white membranes separating the individual segments, allowing these to fall into the bowl along with any juice. Discard any membranes, the pith, and the peel.
3. Shave the fennel into thin strips. You can either do this over the shaving blade on a box grater or with a mandolin, provided you have the hand-guard in place to hold the bulb as you run it over the blade. You want very thin, limp pieces, almost translucent. Cut them into bite-sized bits and put them in the bowl.
4. Drain the wild rice in a fine-mesh sieve or a lined colander in the sink. Run cool tap water over the grains to return them to room temperature, then drain them very well, shaking the sieve to get rid of excess moisture. Scrape the wild rice into the bowl. Add the chopped pistachios, oil, vinegar, and salt; toss well.
As we’ve noted, there are many varietals of wild rice, from the heritage rices gathered by hand in Minnesota to the industrially harvested strains grown in central California. Both will work here, although we tested the recipe with hand-picked grains. We balanced the vinegar, in particular, against their nuttier flavor. If you have the black, industrially harvested wild rice, taste the salad before serving, adding a little more vinegar if you find it leaning too sweet.
Chef It Up!
Substitute avocado oil for the olive oil.
Make It Easier!
Substitute canned mandarin orange segments, drained, for the orange supremes. Use only those packed in water or juice, not heavy syrup. You may need a little of the liquid in the can to moisten the salad when you’re done.
From the book Grain Mains by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.
Photo: Tina Rupp