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Wild Rice Salad with Cherries and Hazelnuts

DFGFV

Wild Rice Salad with Cherries and Hazelnuts

This good-for-you wild rice salad with juicy cherries and crunchy hazelnuts is fresh and hearty and combines salty and sweet just right. Delicious as a vegetarian lunch or served as a side dish to grilled meat or salmon.

Wild Rice Salad with Cherries and Hazelnuts // FoodNouveau.com

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If I had to choose one summer salad to serve for the rest of my life, this wild rice salad would be it. It’s colorful, fresh, and filled with textures. It combines salty and sweet just right. It’s hearty enough to be served as a light lunch, but it’s also the perfect side to grilled flank steak and salmon—and the leftover dressing makes a lovely sauce, too!). It’s elegant enough to serve to company, but quick enough to make on a weeknight. Simply put, you need to make it. Now.

Wild Rice Salad with Cherries and Hazelnuts // FoodNouveau.com


Helpful Tips for Making this Wild Rice Salad


Switch Up the Rice Variety

You can use any whole-grain rice in this salad, and medium- to long-grain varieties work best. Wild rice, black rice and red rice varieties create striking salads, but long grain brown rice works too. You can also use a wild rice mix. Because the cooking times or whole grain rice varieties vary widely, always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to get perfectly cooked rice.

USE THE RIPEST CHERRIES YOU CAN FIND

Plump cherries that feel soft to the touch are the juiciest and deliver the most aromatic flavor in this wild rice salad. This hearty salad is thus perfect for celebrating cherry season—from early June to late-August.

A bowl of fresh, ripe cherries // FoodNouveau.com

INVEST IN A CHERRY PITTER

If you love cherries, you need a cherry pitter. Let’s all be honest here: pitting cherries, especially when you need a large quantity, can be a pain. I should know—I’ve probably halved and pitted thousands of cherries in my time! Pitting cherries is not hard to do, but a few years ago, I succumbed to the lure of a cherry pitter. The Oxo cherry pitter I own is worth every dollar I paid to get it. Like all Oxo gadgets, it’s sturdy, comfortable to use, efficient, and easy to clean. And at about $15, it’s pretty affordable too. To prepare cherries for this wild rice salad, you can simply pit the cherries, then slice them in half and toss them in.

If you don’t have a cherry pitter, here’s how to prepare the cherries for this wild rice salad: Run a very sharp knife all around the pit of a cherry. Twist both sides in the opposite direction to separate the cherry into two pieces. Carefully use the tip of the knife to pop the pit out. Repeat to prep all cherries.

No Cherries? No Problem. Use these fruits instead.

If it’s not cherry season or if you can’t find ripe cherries where you are, no worries: you can still make this wild rice salad using other fruits: sliced strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and nectarines would all be delicious in here. All of these fruits are sweet so the dressing should also work as is, although you should of course give it a taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. If you’re using peaches or nectarines, pit and dice the fruit before adding it to the wild rice salad. For a smoother texture, you can peel the pieces of peaches and nectarines you use in the dressing.

Wild Rice Salad with Cherries and Hazelnuts // FoodNouveau.com

HOW TO PEEL HAZELNUTS

Peeling hazelnuts is really easy! The key is to roast them first.

To roast and peel hazelnuts, spread them over a baking sheet and bake at 350°F (170°C) for 15 minutes, giving the tray a good shake every five minutes. When the skin of the hazelnuts is shiny and crackled, remove them from the oven and transfer them to a clean dish towel. Close the towel up into a bundle and rub the hazelnuts against one another vigorously to remove the skin. Open the towel and pick up the peeled hazelnuts. Some bits of skin will remain and that’s ok, simply make sure to discard all the loose papery bits. Keep the roasted hazelnuts in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

Roasted and peeled hazelnuts // FoodNouveau.com

LOOK FOR ROASTED AND PEELED HAZELNUTS TO SAVE TIME

Some companies, such as Yupik in Canada and AZNUT in the US, sell unsalted roasted hazelnuts. These are more expensive, but a huge time saver. Nuts are expensive and using stale nuts in a salad or any other dish is such an awful waste! Make sure to buy roasted nuts from a store with a high turnover and from a company with a good reputation to make sure they are fresh.

 

 

Wild Rice Salad with Cherries and Hazelnuts // FoodNouveau.com

Wild Rice Salad with Cherries and Hazelnuts

This colorful, good-for-you wild rice salad with juicy cherries and crunchy hazelnuts is fresh and hearty, and it combines salty and sweet just right. Delicious on its own as a vegetarian lunch or served as a side dish to grilled meat or salmon.
Prep Time:20 mins
Cook Time:30 mins
Cooling Time:30 mins
Servings 6 servings (as a side dish).

Ingredients

To Serve

  • cup crumbled goat's cheese or feta cheese, or to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  • Cook the wild rice according to the manufacturer's instructions. Let cool completely to room temperature. To allow the rice to cool faster, you can spread it over a baking sheet.
    Make-ahead tip: To save time, you can cook the wild rice up to 2 days ahead of time. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate in an airtight container. Return to room temperature 1 hour before assembling the salad, or take a shortcut by reheating slightly using the microwave.
  • To make the salad: In a large bowl, combine the wild rice, spinach, and 2/3 of the hazelnuts. Toss to combine.
  • Make the cherry dressing: In the container of a stand blender, add 1/3 of the cherries, the olive oil, the vinegar, and the salt. Blend until smooth. (You can also use a hand blender or a mini food processor to make the dressing.) Add a generous splash of the dressing to the salad and toss to combine.
  • Stir the remaining cherries into the wild rice salad. Season with freshly ground black pepper and fleur de sel or flaky sea salt. Add more dressing if needed. Transfer the salad to a large serving dish or bowl. Garnish with a drizzle of the remaining dressing, the remaining hazelnuts, crumbled cheese, and fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately.
  • STORAGE: Because baby spinach holds up well even after being tossed with dressing, this wild rice salad can be made up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight container, but make sure to return to room temperature at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with the cheese and fresh basil just before serving.
  • MAKE IT DAIRY-FREE & VEGAN: Omit the cheese.
  • NOTES
  • Rice Substitution Tips: You can use any whole-grain rice in this salad, and medium- to long-grain varieties work best. Black rice and red rice create striking salads, but long grain brown rice works too. You can also use a wild rice mix. Because the cooking times or whole grain rice varieties vary widely, always make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions to get perfectly cooked rice.
  • How to Toast and Peel Hazelnuts: To roast and peel hazelnuts, spread them over a baking sheet and bake at 350°F (170°C) for 15 minutes, giving the tray a good shake every five minutes. When the skin of the hazelnuts is shiny and crackled, remove from the oven and transfer to a clean dish towel. Close the towel up into a bundle and rub the hazelnuts against one another vigorously to remove the skin. Open the towel and pick up the peeled hazelnuts. Some bits of skin will remain and that’s ok, simply make sure to discard all the loose papery bits. Keep the roasted hazelnuts in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

Did you make this?

Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.

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Author: Marie Asselin

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Cooling Time: 30 mins

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