I just got back from a Thanksgiving “warm-up” meal, which was a delicious evening full of good food and good people. There is nothing like a family of friends to be grateful with before giving thanks with the nation. A casual meal of bounty also helps to temper holiday psychosis (admit it, you know what I am talking about).
Originally I said I would bring corn muffins in the shape of ears of corn simply because I somehow acquired a cast iron muffin pan in said shape. But in a burst of culinary confidence I dug out a Martha Stewart “Living” magazine from November 2000 and settled on Wild Rice and Fruit Salad.
“On a day when warm side dishes abound, salads provide a welcome contrast,” purrs the recipe introduction. “This one has many merits: the hearty, nutty flavor of wild rice, the freshness of fruit, and a tart dressing…. It can be served chilled or at room temperature and can even be dressed in advance, since the rice will stand up to a long soak without losing its pleasant chewiness.”
Wild and nutty. Sounds like Thanksgiving to me. Other than having to hunt for wild rice in two different stores and then paying much, much more than I ever imagined I would for rice, it was worth it.
I can assure you, no one else will be bringing this to your Thanksgiving meal and it will command respect amid the candied yams and the cranberry jello, and bow to the roasted turkey.
And of course, if this seems too complicated, you can still resort to the more simple Pumpkin Curry Soup.
Wild Rice and Fruit Salad
2 cups wild rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 red apple, cored and diced
Pinch of ground cloves
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small red onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup currants
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Bring 3 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add rice, reduce heat, and simmer until rice is tender and most kernels have opened, about 50 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside in a large bowl.
Melt butter in a skillet and add apple and cloves. Sautée until golden, about 3 minutes. Add to rice. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and add onion, celery, carrot and garlic, satuée until onions are translucent and just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to bowl with rice and apples, add currants. Season with salt and pepper.
In the same skillet, add cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons water. Heat, whisking continually, until mixture has reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; set aside. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss. Garnish with toasted almonds. Watch your family go wild.
Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serves 8.