Wild rice is not a staple in the American diet, but it IS a favored addition to meals for many people, especially those in the upper Midwest region of America, where this delicacy originates. If you’re not sure what wild rice is or how to use it in your meal plan, you’re in the right place! LOTS of information is below that should help.
Wild Rice 101 – The Basics
About Wild Rice
Wild rice is not actually rice at all. It is the seed of a marsh grass, native to the Great Lakes region of North America. It grows naturally in shallow freshwater marshes and along the shores of streams and lakes. There are four species of wild rice, with three of them being native to North America. The fourth species is native to Asia, and is harvested as a vegetable.
Wild rice has long black or dark brown grains that have a chewy texture with an earthy, nutty flavor. It is more expensive than true forms of rice and takes longer to cook. It is often found in rice blends where the components complement flavors, textures and cooking times.
Wild rice is slightly higher in protein than other whole grains. In addition to protein, it is a good source of fiber, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, Vitamin B6, and niacin. It has slightly fewer calories than brown or white rice. Wild rice is gluten-free.
Research on the health benefits is scarce since it is a small part of our food supply. However, in 1994, researchers at the University of Minnesota found that wild rice is very high in antioxidants. In 2009, scientists at the University of Manitoba found that the antioxidant level of wild rice is 30-times higher than that of white rice. That same year, researchers in China found that wild rice lowered cholesterol and other blood lipids in animals.
How to Store Wild Rice
Because of its low fat content, wild rice will keep in a dry, air-tight container up to 10 years. Once cooked, place your wild rice in an air-tight container and store it in the refrigerator up to 4 or 5 days.
How to Freeze Wild Rice
Cooked wild rice may be frozen by placing it in an air-tight container and storing it in the freezer for up to six months. It may be thawed overnight in the refrigerator before use.
How to Prepare Wild Rice
Wild rice should be washed before being cooked. Place it in a bowl of cool water, stir, then set it aside for a few minutes. This gives time for any debris to float to the top. Pour off the water. Combine one cup of wild rice with three cups of water or broth in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer, and cover the pot. Simmer time for wild rice varies a lot on package directions, ranging from 30 to 45 minutes up to an hour. Cook it until the kernels just start to open, or taste it to determine if it’s tender enough for you. For chewier wild rice, cook less time. For tender, fluffier wild rice, cook longer until it’s as tender as you want it to be. Drain off any excess liquid and serve. One cup uncooked yields 3 to 4 cups cooked wild rice.
Cooking/Serving Ideas for Wild Rice
Wild rice can be used as a substitute for potatoes, pasta, or traditional rice. It can be eaten alone, but is often combined with traditional rice or other grains. Wild rice can be added to a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, casseroles, and even desserts.
For something different, try popping wild rice! You can pop wild rice like popcorn. Heat it in a little oil and shake it until it pops. Season it with butter, salt, and any way you enjoy your popcorn.
Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Wild Rice
Bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, dill, garlic, mustard, oregano, parsley, pepper (black), sage, salt, seeds (i.e. sunflower), tarragon, thyme
Other Foods That Go Well With Wild Rice
Proteins, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans, beef, chicken, eggs, game, ham, hazelnuts, nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pork, poultry, sausage, turkey, walnuts
Vegetables: Artichoke hearts, asparagus, bell peppers, carrots, celery, celery root, chives, corn, greens (i.e. collards), leeks, mushrooms, onions, pumpkin, scallions, shallots, spinach, squash (summer and winter), watercress, zucchini
Fruit: Apples, apple cider, apple juice, dates, dried fruit (esp. cherries, cranberries), lemon, orange, raisins, tangerines
Grains: Barley, bulgur (wheat), corn, rice
Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese, ghee, sour cream
Other: Maple syrup, oil, soy sauce, stock (esp. vegetable), tamari, vinegar, wine
Wild rice has been used in: American cuisine, baked goods (i.e. breads, cakes), casseroles, crepes, frittatas, Midwestern American cuisine, Native American cuisine, omelets, pancakes and waffles, pilafs, salads, soups, stuffings
Suggested Flavor Combos:
Combine wild rice with…
Beets + orange
Brown rice + nuts
Cinnamon + orange zest
Dates + pecans
Fruit (i.e. apples, dates, dried cherries or cranberries, raisins) + nuts (i.e. almonds, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts)
Garlic + spinach
Pine nuts + mushrooms + spinach
Scallions + walnuts
Manitoba Wild Rice https://www.food.com/recipe/manitoba-wild-rice-7808
Wild Rice and Mushrooms https://www.food.com/recipe/wild-rice-and-mushrooms-51714
Rice Cooker Wild Rice https://www.food.com/recipe/rice-cooker-wild-rice-106087
Wild Rice Apple Salad https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/wild-rice-apple-salad
Wild Rice Salad with Pepitas and Sun-Dried Cranberries https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/wild-rice-salad-pepitas-sun-dried-cranberries
Shrimp and Wild Rice Salad https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/shrimp-and-wild-rice-salad
Wild Rice Apple Cake https://www.ramywildriceco.com/recipes/wild-rice-apple-cake
Wild Rice and Apple Skillet with Pork https://www.ramywildriceco.com/recipes/wild-rice-and-apple-skillet-pork
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Wild Rice, Hazelnuts and Dried Cranberries https://www.ramywildriceco.com/recipes/stuffed-acorn-squash-wild-rice-hazelnuts-and-dried-cranberries
Wild Rice Vegetable Pilaf https://www.bowenappetit.com/2013/11/19/wild-rice/
Harvest Wild Rice Skillet https://pinchofyum.com/harvest-wild-rice-skillet#tasty-recipes-39437
Roasted Apple, Quinoa, and Wild Rice Salad https://producemadesimple.ca/roasted-apple-quinoa-wild-rice-salad/
Wild Rice Pilaf http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=156
Minnesota Wild Rice Bread https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/minnesota-wild-rice-bread-recipe-2012014
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.
Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.