I recently served this salad as part of a cold soup and three salad luncheon for a JazzVox audience. It was the hit of the meal. Well, this salad and the Mixed Berry Trifle. (Recipe for the trifle to follow within the next few days.)
Everyone loved the nutty flavor of the wild rice, but the best part for me was the fact that I knew I was serving my guests a very healthy salad without their knowledge. (It’s fun once in a while to slip one over on my friends.) But in all honesty, who would find fault with me for such a deception when the “deception” tasted so good and was so good for them? According to the care2 website, wild rice has several very impressive health benefits:
- Wild rice is gluten free
- It does not contain sodium
- It contains twice as much protein as brown rice
- Wild rice is actually a grass and the grains are not polished or refined and can be eaten by diabetics in moderation
- It is very rich in antioxidants – containing 30 times more than white rice
- Because of its high fiber content, wild rice keeps your digestion smooth and helps lower cholesterol
- Wild rice is a good source of essential minerals such as phosphorus, zinc and folate, which give you energy and nurture your bones
- It contains vitamins A, C and E which are essential for overall health and immunity
- A serving of wild rice is lower in calories than other rice varieties
And as you can read from the ingredients list, wild rice isn’t the only healthy ingredient in this salad. Pecans contain unsaturated fats that contribute to heart health. Avocados also contain healthy fats and loads of nutrients. Throw in some white meat chicken, 3 types of veggies, and some garlic for good measure, and even though the salad contains a small amount of vegetable oil and a kiss of sugar, the health-o-meter remains at the top of the green zone when you consider the recipe as a whole.
So I guess all things considered, a salad that tastes wonderful and contains healthy ingredients is by definition a winner. And this winning recipe comes to me from my dear friend Sandy. The recipe actually appeared in my second cookbook, but after all the praise it received at our last concert, I just had to share it with my internet readers too.
So do not hesitate to prepare this salad in the near future. It is the perfect dish to serve on a warm summer evening along with a rustic loaf and a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier. And Sandy, as always – you are the greatest. Thanks again for this lovely recipe.
- 2¼ c. chicken broth
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 c. wild rice, rinsed in cold water
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ¼ tsp. sugar
- 1 T. Dijon mustard
- ¼ c. rice vinegar
- 1/3 c. vegetable oil
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite sized pieces
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced (both white and green parts)
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- 12 sugar peas, cut in 3rds
- 2 ripe avocados, diced
- 1 c. toasted pecans
- juice of 1 lemon, divided
Bring chicken broth, ½ tsp. salt, and a couple grinds of pepper to a boil. Add the rice, stir, and return broth to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for about 30-40 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat, uncover, fluff with fork, and toss with half of the lemon juice. Set aside to cool. (If you have extra liquid, drain the rice before adding the lemon juice.)
Meanwhile whisk the garlic, sugar, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar, and oil together; set aside. This is the dressing for the salad.
When the rice is cool, gently add the cubed chicken, green onions, red pepper, and snap peas. Stir in the dressing, adjust seasoning (it may need more salt), cover, and refrigerate for at least two hours to blend flavors. Just before serving, gently stir in the avocado, pecans, and remaining lemon juice.