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I’ve been trying to eat healither lately, and there’s a Crisp and Green near my new house. Well, they have a wild rice salad called “wild child,” so I decided to make this a copycat recipe — only truly wild.
There are many versions of wild rice salad all over the internet, but this one, which uses dried cranberries or other berries, real-deal wild rice and grouse instead of chicken really kicks things up several notches, to paraphrase ole’ Emeril.
Yes, you can absolutely make this wild rice salad with chicken breast, craisins and regular, black (farmed) wild rice, but I’ll walk you through the “wilder” steps, which you can mix and match as you wish.
Crisp and Green’s actual wild child salad consists of wild rice, arugula, roasted chicken, roasted brussels sprouts, radicchio, goat cheese, craisins, and a balsamic vinaigrette.
It’s a great salad that hits lots of notes: Wild rice is substantial and hearty, the chicken adds clean protein, brussels sprouts some caramelized heft, arugula and radicchio slightly bitter bright notes, the craisins are sweet and tart, as is the balsamic.
The goat cheese adds even more tang, and is served as a dollop on the side of your salad. I like it, but don’t love it. Feel free to add about 1/4 cup of soft goat cheese to each bowl if you want.
Wild Rice for Salad
So, I live in Minnesota and wild rice is serious business here. Lots of people can tell you about all the different grades and styles of wild rice, but most people agree that wild-harvested, wood-parched wild rice is king.
It’s longer, lighter in color, takes less water and time to cook, and is just better than any other kind of wild wirce. You can get it all over the Upper Midwest, and sometimes online. A much more common, and really almost as good, is cultivated-but-wood-parched wild rice. This is also a lot cheaper. (You can buy it here.)
You do not want “soup grade” or broken wild rice for this wild rice salad.
You can use regular California cultivated wild rice, which is what you’ll get in most of the United States. It just takes longer to cook. Definitely cook it well before making the wild rice salad, even the day before.
Elements of Wild Rice Salad
Obviously the rice is the backbone of the dish. But each ingredient is there for a reason, as I mentioned above. If you don’t have exactly what I call for in this wild rice salad, here are some substitutions.
First, the chicken can be any white meat. I use ruffed grouse because, well, I had it, and grouse fits really well with wild rice and cranberries. Pheasant, quail, rabbit, turkey, or partridge would work well.
The craisins are nice and easy to get, but dried lingonberries are better. Any dried, tart berry works well. Other possibilities would be dried blueberries, currants, gooseberries and raspberries.
The arugula and radicchio are great touches, but you could use spinach, dandelion greens, parsley, endive, or really thinly sliced fennel bulb.
Lots of wild rice salad recipes add nuts, notably pecans. Great idea, I support it, but the Crisp and Green recipe doesn’t have them. Add up to a cup of chopped, toasted hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, peanuts or butternuts if you want.
Dressing the Salad
Frankly, I just want a quality oil and a good vinegar, so that’s what I use. Here, because this is a northern salad, I prefer a good, unrefined sunflower oil. Any nut oil would be a great option, too.
No reason not to use olive oil if that’s the best oil in your house, but whatever you use, make it a good oil.
Once made, you can keep this wild rice salad in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days before it gets too soggy. It does not freeze well.
If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.
Wild Rice Salad
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, sliced in half
- 1/2 cup sunflower oil, divided
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds cooked grouse breast, or chicken or other white meat
- 1 cup wild rice
- 2 cups baby arugula, or spinach or dandelion greens
- 1/2 radicchio, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup craisins, or other dried berries
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Coat the Brussels sprouts with a little oil and salt well. Roast, in one layer, until browned and slightly crispy, about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the wild rice in water or broth with a little salt. If you're not familiar with cooking wild rice, just submerge in the liquid by the depth of about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, stir, and then simmer gently until tender — about 20 minutes for true wild rice, but up to 1 hour for the hard, black cultivated variety. Drain and toss with a little oil.
- Add the Brussels sprouts to the wild rice. Cut the grouse or chicken into chunks and add that to the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Serve cool or at room temperature.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.