Wild Rice Salad

This Wild Rice Salad features chickpeas, cranberries, and toasted pecans. Tossed with a honey-sweetened sesame ginger dressing, and topped with lots of cilantro, this is an easy, healthy recipe.

wild rice salad on a blue plate with a black bowl of salad in the background

This Wild Rice Salad was the second recipe I ever posted on this site. It’s such a lovely salad and was buried shamefully deep in the archives, so I thought it was high time for new photos, a printable recipe card, and some updated instructions.

This salad was born of a series of long ago girl’s night potluck dinners. At one of these dinners a fellow attendee brought a wild rice salad she had picked up from the deli of a natural food store (I’m not naming names, but it rhymes with schmole schmoods), and it was tasty.  

A short while later on a night when I was tired and hungry, the salad was still on my mind so I trundled over to schmole schmoods and picked some up for dinner – dang, it was expensive!  

As I ate, I ran my eyes over the list of ingredients and I thought two things; 1. I can make this, and 2. I can make this better.

I wanted my Wild Rice Salad to be a meal in a bowl. I wanted to be able to reach into the fridge and grab leftovers, or throw some into a container to pack for lunch and have the salad be all I need to pack.

Also, because I’m very often the only vegetarian at a gathering, I wanted the item I brought to be both nutritionally satisfying and ensure that I wouldn’t be stuck eating bread and leaves all night. And that’s how this salad came to be. 

Let’s make some!

bowls with dried cranberries, red pepper, tomato, pecans, chickpeas, wild rice, and brown rice on a grey background

What goes into this Wild Rice Salad?

  • Wild Rice! No duh, guys.
  • Brown Rice. Because wild rice is expensive AF so we’re bulking it out with the brown stuff. 
  • Chickpeas. For some plant-based protein!
  • Tomatoes. I like using roma tomatoes in this recipe. 
  • Red Pepper. Tasty! Pretty!
  • Dried Cranberries. They’re festive AND delicious. 
  • Toasted Pecans. Because we’re worth it. Also: crunch!
  • Cilantro. Please and thank you. 

overhead photo with all of the ingredients for a wild rice salad divided into a black bowl

What about the dressing?

Let me tell you a little story. My sister loves this salad so much that she sent the link for the recipe to the caterers she was using and asked them to make it for her wedding dinner. I took one bite and realized they hadn’t put any dressing on it.

I went and talked to the caterers and they were like, oh yeah, we thought it was weird there was no dressing in the recipe (but there totally was – they were just idiots) and they quickly whipped up some dressing for ONLY ME. 

You guys, this salad sucks without the dressing! Bland! Boring! The dressing takes it from just a big bowl of rice and stuff to an exceptionally delicious wild rice salad. Moral of the story: don’t be an idiot – make the dressing!

The dressing includes:

  • Honey
  • Sesame oil
  • Rice vinegar
  • Light soy sauce
  • Ginger
  • Garlic

overhead photo of wild rice salad on a blue plate with a pot of pecans and a carafe of dressing to the side

How do you make this wild rice salad?

You’re going to need to cook up some wild rice and some brown rice. I’m a big fan of cooking whole grains in bulk and freezing portions of them, so feel free to cook way more than you need for this recipe. 

Pro tip: If you’re cooking the rice to make this wild rice salad and you need it in a hurry, spread it out on a sheet pan to cool down.

While you’re rice is cooking / cooling you an prep everything else. Chop your tomato, red pepper, and cilantro. Toast your pecans. 

Then, make the dressing!

Pro tip: Frozen ginger is waaaaaaay easier to grate than fresh ginger. Plus if you keep your ginger in the freezer it’ll last for ever and you won’t end up finding a sad, shrivelled ginger root stashed behind your fruit bowl / at the back of your fridge / wherever you keep your ginger. 

Pro tip: Since you’re grating your ginger anyways, you may as well grate the garlic also. But be sure to grate the ginger first and the garlic second, otherwise your ginger root (which is going back into the freezer, right? right?) will end up tasting like garlic. 

So grate your ginger and garlic, add the honey, soy, sesame oil, and rice vinegar, and whisk it all together. Done!

Then, combine everything into a big old bowl, toss, add the dressing, and toss again. Wild Rice Salad done like dinner. 

A black bowl of wild rice salad with a pot of dressing and a white tea towel to the side

Pro tips / Recipe notes:

  • Is this recipe hard to make? No! If the rices are cooked in advance, this salad is super quick and easy to make! 
  • I don’t have wild rice. Bummer. But really, you can use any blend of rice or grains you’re into. 
  • Is this recipe vegan? Strictly speaking, honey isn’t vegan. But you can sub in maple syrup instead and you’re good to go. 
  • Is this recipe gluten free? Um, yes.
  • Can I make this recipe in advance? You bet! Just leave the pecans and cilantro out until the last minute.
  • How long will this salad last? It’ll be good for about 3 days in your fridge. 
  • I want to make more/ less or this recipe. No problem! Just adjust the number of servings in the recipe card below and it’ll do the math for ya!

Hey Nutrition Lady, what’s the deal with wild rice?

Wild Rice isn’t actually rice at all. Rather, it’s a type of grass, known as an aquatic cereal, which is native to Canada and the United States. It’s been part of the diet of the First Nations people in areas where it is grown for thousands of years.

Wild rice is a good source of B vitamins including B1 (Thiamine), B6, B9 (Folate) and B12, as well as dietary fiber, which helps steady the pace of digestion and regulate glucose uptake.

overhead photo of wild rice salad in a black bowl

Other recipes you might enjoy:

Spicy Tofu Grain Bowls 
Winter Vegetable Meal Prep Bowls
Barbecue Tofu Bowls

Wild Rice Salad

This Wild Rice Salad features chickpeas, cranberries, and toasted pecans. Tossed with a honey-sweetened sesame ginger dressing, and topped with lots of cilantro, this is an easy, healthy recipe. 

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Wild Rice Salad
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 355 kcal
Author Katie Trant

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked wild rice approx 1 cup uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice approx 3/4 cup uncooked
  • 14 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups chickpeas)
  • 1 large sweet red pepper diced
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp honey or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger use frozen ginger!
  • 1 clove garlic grated or crushed
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce I prefer Bragg's liquid aminos
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Start by cooking your rice. Brown and wild rice both normally take around 45 minutes.  Set rice aside to cool - spread it out on a sheet pan to speed up the cooling if needed. 

  2. To make the dressing, whisk together honey (or other liquid sweetener), ginger, garlic, soy, sesame oil, and rice vinegar.

  3. In a large bowl, combine cooled rices, chickpeas, red pepper, tomatoes, cilantro, and dried cranberries. 

  4. Pour the dressing over the top and stir well to combine ingredients. 

  5. If you are serving immediately, add the pecans, otherwise, save them and toss them through the salad at the last minute.

  6. Top with extra cilantro if you like.

Recipe Notes

  • Nutrition values are an estimate only. 
  • I don't have wild rice. Bummer. But really, you can use any blend of rice or grains you're into. 
  • Can I make this recipe in advance? You bet! Just leave the pecans and cilantro out until the last minute.
  • How long will this salad last? It'll be good for about 3 days in your fridge. 
  • I want to make more/ less or this recipe. No problem! Just adjust the number of servings in the recipe card below and it'll do the math for ya!
Nutrition Facts
Wild Rice Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 355 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 23%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Sodium 547mg 23%
Potassium 288mg 8%
Total Carbohydrates 48g 16%
Dietary Fiber 6g 24%
Sugars 16g
Protein 7g 14%
Vitamin A 15.8%
Vitamin C 32.7%
Calcium 3.7%
Iron 10.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This recipe was originally published July 6, 2010. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated on December 21, 2018.

This Wild Rice Salad features chickpeas, cranberries, and toasted pecans. Tossed with a honey-sweetened sesame ginger dressing, and topped with lots of cilantro, this is an easy, healthy recipe. #wildricesalad #vegetarian


 

Comments

  1. Looks tasty… but I’d have to go shopping for a bunch of those pantry-esque ingredients, and wouldn’t know what else to use them for….

    Can I request a “stock your pantry with these items, and then use them for a and b and c…!” post at some point? 🙂

    • Yes! That’s a great idea. I’m also planning a “cook a big pot of ________ (brown rice, quinoa, beans, etc), here’s 3 different things you can do with it” type of series in the future.

  2. Oh this is fabulous! I made it for dinner tonight and it is soooo good! Thank you for sharing this- I’ll be making it many many many more times!!

  3. Wow. Just made a 1/2 batch of this (which, after my first bowl wish I had made a full batch). I used some dried blueberries that I got a “deal” on. This salad was amazing. Many times better then the one I made last week from a different food blog. Great job Katie!

  4. Ah ha! So that’s how you do a “lettuce barrier”. Here we go… summer is ending and full-tilt work and real life resume. I’ll try pre-preparing sandwiches.

  5. I was looking for something different to do with wild rice and I just happened to have some fresh cooked chick peas. It’s an awesome salad. It was a hit with everyone. Diffinately gonna be a regular dish at our family dinners. Thank you.

  6. Best recipe found ever! This became our signature dish and now we’re taking it around the world with us. Love it! Thank you

  7. Coming back to this recipe for my make-ahead lunches for the week. Put it all together and then added chicken on top instead of chickpeas for fodmap-free protein. Omitted the garlic in the dressing but added extra ginger for more zing and it still tastes delicious!

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