Why It Works
- Cooking rice in stock imbues it with deeper flavor.
- Cranberries both add their own kind of pleasant tart sweetness.
Earthy and flavorful wild rice is studded with two bright and fruity elements in this salad—sweet-tart dried cranberries and tangy pickled apples. Toasted pecans add a rich and nutty note, while sautéed onion and celery contribute some aromatic depth. It's perfect for the Thanksgiving table.
- 14 ounces wild rice (about 2 1/3 cups; 396g)
- Chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water, for cooking the rice (see note)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces (350g) crisp apple (about 1 medium), cored and diced
- 1 cup white wine vinegar (8 ounces; 235ml)
- 1/4 cup (50g) sugar, divided
- 4 ounces (115g) dried unsweetened cranberries
- 4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter
- One 8-ounce (225g) red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Three 2-ounce (55g) stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- 8 ounces (225g) pecans, toasted then roughly crumbled
In a large pot, combine wild rice with enough stock and/or water to cover by at least 2 inches. Season lightly with salt. Bring to a simmer, then continue to cook at a simmer until rice grows tender and many of the grains have ruptured, about 50 minutes; add more water at any point as needed to keep rice covered.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine white wine vinegar with 1 cup (235ml) water, 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar, and 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.
Place apples in a stainless steel mixing bowl nested in a larger mixing bowl full of ice water. Pour hot vinegar brine over apples, stirring to chill rapidly. Once cool, press a clean paper towel against the surface to fully submerge apples. Set aside or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
In a separate heat-resistant bowl, pour about 1 cup boiling water over cranberries. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar until dissolved. Set aside.
In a medium skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add onion, celery, and thyme sprigs, and cook, stirring, until tender but not browned, about 4 minutes. Discard thyme and set aside.
Using a fine-mesh strainer, drain wild rice well; let cool to near room temperature. Transfer to a large bowl and mix with sautéed vegetables. Drain cranberries and add to rice. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pickled apples to wild rice, reserving the pickling brine.
Add parsley, tarragon, chives, and pecans to rice. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in 1 tablespoon reserved pickling brine at a time until salad tastes bright and flavorful. Serve.
You need enough liquid to cover the rice sufficiently, the exact amount of which will depend on the dimensions of your pot; if using stock, 1 or 2 quarts (1 or 2 liters) will be sufficient, as you can always top it up with additional water as needed.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The entire salad can be mixed together, except for the pickled apples and herbs, and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance. The pickled apples can be made separately and held in the brine, refrigerated, up to 3 days in advance. Bring to room temperature, or warm slightly, before mixing in the pickled apples and herbs and completing the salad.