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Harvest Wild Rice Salad {Holiday Salad Recipe}

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A colorful, eat-the-rainbow, hearty salad; loaded with fresh, flavorful and satisfying crunchies! This wild rice salad with grapes, pecans, apples, and pomegranate is dressed with maple dijon vinaigrette is perfect for anytime you are looking for a bright, crispy, fresh, in season salad.

Salad lover? Or maybe you think salads are kinda boring, I honestly can bounce between both emotions; but this wild rice salad recipe is anything but girly, boring or plain! It’s the perfect salad to make for a luncheon, or even make individual appetizer sized salads for a party.

If you are thinking about the perfect fall salad right now, you might also enjoy these fall inspired recipes; Fall Harvest Salad {with Roasted Butternut Squash & Quinoa}, Sweet Maple Apple Pecan Salad, Pumpkin Curry Soup, or Pumpkin Spice Cake!

Wild Rice salad recipe on plate with arugula, grapes, honeycrisp apples, cheese, bacon and pecans.

You will make this recipe again and again! Slices of sweet, honeycrisp apples, crunchy pomegranate arils, creamy goat cheese, hearty and nutty wild rice, chewy spiced pecans, juicy grapes, and bacon all layered beautifully on a bed of peppery arugula.

Dressed up all fancy-like with this easy to prepare maple Dijon vinaigrette

Wild Rice Salad with Grapes

This Wild Rice salad should not be reserved for the holidays or even fall or winter! Since we enjoy many produce items year round, this recipe should be a regular on your menu.

Plus, it’s so easily customized to your tastes and what’s in season and at the end of the post I give you a TON of variations and substitutions.

Plated wild rice, harvest salad with apples, grapes, arugula, pecans, goat cheese, bacon and pomegranates.

I first spied this amazing salad from one of my favorite bloggers, Brenda at A Farmgirl’s Dabbles, I’ve made a few tweaks, but honestly this salad and dressing just shine!

Every time I make it, people rave about it and ask for the recipe. So get on board the beautiful, hearty, healthy salad train

Ingredients

As with all of my recipes, the full amounts and instructions are in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.

  • Greens | I think this salad is perfectly balanced with peppery arugula, however; it would be delicious with chopped romaine or baby greens or even baby spinach!
  • Wild Rice | The key ingredient to this Wild Rice salad recipe! Buy real wild rice, no blends here!
  • Fruit | Red or green grapes are delicious, don’t forget the jewel toned pomegranate arils and sweet honeycrisp apples.
  • Crunchies | I love salads with crunchies, like this Asian Ramen Noodle Salad! Be sure to add pecans (try these Maple Bourbon pecans); this salad would also be great with sunflower seeds or pistachios!
  • Cheese | I used creamy goat cheese, but feta would also be tasty!
  • Bacon | If you are going for a vegetarian salad, the omit the bacon, but really, keep the smoky bacon!
  • Dressing | This maple Dijon Vinaigrette is perfectly balanced for this salad!

How to Make Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Make the maple Dijon vinaigrette first, so it can chill while you assemble your salad.

This dressing is emulsified which (roughly and by roughly I mean very non-scientifically) means taking a heavier liquid (oil in this case) and combining with a lighter liquid (vinegar & maple syrup) that don’t typically combine and whipping at a fast rate to combine to a creamy or emulsified state. 

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette 
 in a pretty serving pitcher.

How to make Wild Rice

Let’s make wild rice — this takes some time and can’t be rushed. In a medium pot, over medium-high heat, pour in chicken broth, bring to simmer, stir in wild rice and sea salt.

And please use real wild rice, not brown rice or white rice or wild rice blend, it’s a bit pricier, but so worth it.

Reduce heat to low/simmer and cover for about 45-60 minutes, until rice is split open and curly. I’ve made it the night before on several occasions, cooled and refrigerated.

wild rice on slotted spoon in pot with broth.

You will probably have leftover broth, wild rice won’t absorb all the liquid. Remove rice with slotted spoon to bowl to cool and place in fridge until ready to use.

****Save leftover rice broth to use in a soup or give as a treat to your pet. 

Slotted spoon removing wild rice to a bowl to cool.

How to Make Harvest Wild Rice Salad

There are several ways you can prep this harvest salad ahead of time, assembling it just before you serve it. You can assemble it on a large platter for a show-stopping salad presentation or

Wild rice harvest salad on a platter with grapes, pecans, goat cheese and pomegranate.

Or on individual salad plates for an equally impressive presentation.

Make Ahead Hack!

If you make individual salads, you can make them a couple hours ahead of time; they keep quite well covered tightly in plastic wrap, leave off the bacon and the dressing adding just before serving.

I actually had one salad left over and I ate it the next day, everything was still crisp and lovely, not that I recommend making these 24 hours ahead of time, more like an hour or two ahead, just saying. 

Appetizer Sized Wild Rice Salad

At Christmastime, I hosted a Favorite Things Party and I made these appetizer sized salads in clear plastic cups, placing the dressing in a small pitcher on the side for people to dress their own. 

Pouring dressing on Harvest Wild Rice Salad.

Wash and dry apple — cut in quarters, slicing out core, the slice into thin slices. Place in covered glass container or ziplock baggie; squeeze fresh lemon juice; toss gently to coat, refrigerate until ready.

Wash and pat dry your grapes, slice in half and place in separate baggie or covered glass container, place in fridge until ready to use. 

Fry or bake bacon (350° on foil lined cookie sheet for about 12-18 minutes depending on thickness), drain and cool, crumble into small pieces, set aside.

Seed pomegranate, or purchase pre-packaged pomegranate arils. Make sure you have your desired nuts, cheese. 

Assemble Wild Rice Salad Recipe

On desired platter, plates or cups, place a layer of greens. Arrange the balance of the ingredients in pretty patterns, whether in straight rows, or in patterns, or toss together.

When ready to serve, drizzle with maple Dijon vinaigrette, toss and serve. These zucchini corn fritters would be delicious served with this salad!

Dripping dressing on Wild Rice Harvest salad recipe.

Variations

Your imagination is the limit with these salads, make it your own! Here are some swaps and suggestions. 

  • Try a hearty quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, barley or farro cook according to package directions substituting recommended liquid with chicken broth.
  • Substitute apples with pears, or go the citrus route with oranges or grapefruits.
  • Instead of pomegranate arils, try blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, dried cranberries or strawberries.
  • Replace the goat cheese with crumbled blue cheese, gorgonzola or even feta cheese.
  • Try adding pistachios, cashews, walnuts, or almonds in place of, or in addition to the pecans. Also, roasted pepitas, pine nuts and/or sunflower seeds would add a fun crunch. Any roasted and salted nut or seed would work great, or try candied nuts.
  • Replace the grapes with other grape variety, any berry or even melon balls.
  • Making vegetarian or vegan? Omit bacon (unless you are like some of my vegetarian friends who make an exception for bacon…tee hee) and cheese as desired.
  • Or try substituting the bacon with turkey bacon, a firm chopped pepperoni or salami, or crispy prosciutto (ooh with cantaloupe, yum)

And if you like this recipe, try these other always requested salads!

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15 Comments

  1. What a beautiful salad! John and I were just saying how there’s a big difference between a salad and a good salad. This salad has all of the textures and flavors that I love in a salad!