Note that this salad is at its best when allowed to cool and mellow in the fridge for a few hours, or even overnight, and then left to come to room temperature before serving. Time and plan accordingly.
- 1 cup cup wild rice
- 1 tablespoon salt divided
- 8 ounces fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup walnut oil
- 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar or rice wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 3 green onions
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Put the wild rice, 2 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and at least 6 cups of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook until the wild rice is tender to the bite, 30-45 minutes. Drain, shaking out as much excess what as possible, and set aside to let cool.
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lay the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until you can just smell roasted walnuts, about 10 minutes. Set a timer and don’t do anything else—nuts burn in the blink of an eye and you’ll want to check on them regularly. Set the walnuts aside to let cool.
While the wild rice cooks, cut the cranberries in half. Heat the sugar and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture just comes to a simmer. Add the halved cranberries, cook for 1 minute, and turn off the heat. The cranberries should have lightly softened but not started to fall apart and turn into sauce. Drain the cranberries, reserving the cranberry-infused sugar syrup.
In a large bowl (it can be the serving bowl), combine the walnut oil, vinegar, cranberry-infused sugar syrup, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the wild rice and toss to combine. Add the fresh and dried cranberries and toss to combine. Chop the walnuts and the green onions, reserving about 2 tablespoons of each. Add the rest to the bowl and toss to combine. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving. Garnish with the reserved walnuts and green onions to serve.
You’ll note a wide range for the cooking time for the wild rice. It can vary depending on how and how much the rice was cured or dried and how old it is. Trust your teeth over the clock—you want tender but not mushy rice for this salad.
Walnut oil is a key player in this salad. Smell and taste yours before using it to make sure it hasn’t gone rancid. Once open, always store nut oils in the fridge.
Cutting the cranberries in half is neither super fun nor super necessary. I’ve made this salad with whole cranberries to save the time and hassle, and texture-wise, I’ve always wished I had taken those few extra minutes to halve them.