Unbelievably, wild rice is not actually rice at all. It's a seed of a wild water grass found around the Great Lakes region. Every September, during the Wild Rice Moon, Anishinaabeg people, and other Great Lakes Native American tribes, harvest wild rice in canoes using wooden ricing sticks to knock the rice grains into the boat. It's a long, labor-intensive process, but it is a tradition that has continued for more than 400 years.
Wild rice is often referred to as the "caviar of all grains." That's because it is one of the most flavorful grains that exists today. It has a slightly nutty, sweet flavor and is more firm than white rice. It stands well to be eaten alone, but it also makes a fine pilaf, soup and stuffing. In fact, it pairs well with sautéed mushrooms and onions, dried fruits such as cherries or cranberries, nuts such as pistachios or almonds and fresh herbs like thyme and sage.
Unlike white rice, wild rice is a whole grain. Whole grains provide more nutrients and dietary fiber, making wild rice (and brown rice) the healthiest choice. Wild rice is also quite high in protein, a rare find in a grain. When wild rice is on the dinner menu, be sure to plan for ample amount of time to cook. There's no quick cooking variety, which means it may take 45 to 60 minutes to get tender on the stove top. Try making up a big batch when you have the time and freeze the leftovers in freezer-safe containers for up to six months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight or on the defrost setting of the microwave. Take a walk on the wild side with wild rice!
Chicken Wild Rice Soup (Printable PDF)
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup wild rice
½ cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Stir all ingredients in a 3 ½-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or on high for 2 hours or until rice is tender. Add more water or broth for desired thickness.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 170 calories, 0 grams fat, 410 milligrams sodium, 25 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 13 grams protein