As a Minnesota transplant, wild rice is a kitchen staple that is quite new to me. I had the random bowl of wild rice soup here and there growing up, but it was definitely not a winter tradition, as it is in my husband’s family. I’ve grown to absolutely love the heartiness of wild rice and I not only use it in soups, but in casseroles and grain salads whenever I can. Recently I happened upon Lund’s and Byerly’s Wild Rice Medley which is a combination of Minnesota-grown wild rice, brown basmati rice, red Jasmine rice, and split baby garbanzo beans. I love the different textures and flavors in this medley, and knew it would be a perfect base for a Thanksgiving grain salad.
Especially with all of the heavy, cream-loaded recipes that grace our Thanksgiving dinner tables, I thought we could use a healthier wild rice salad to lighten things up. This Cranberry and Squash Wild Rice Salad fits that bill exactly and is just bursting with yummy things.
Along with the wild rice medley, I added fresh cranberries that were lightly sautéed in orange juice, honey, and rosemary to get them slightly softened and add a touch o sweetness. I also roasted slices of delicata squash, which is one of my favorite squash varieties, not only because it is delicious but it does not need to be peeled. The salad is finished off with a maple vinaigrette and some lightly toasted chopped pecans.
The last great thing about this salad is that it can be prepared a day in advance, which means one less thing to cook on Turkey Day!