Wild rice salad is a healthy, hearty meal that includes fresh pomegranate, peppery arugula, crunchy apple slices, heart-healthy nuts, and a light, zesty orange vinaigrette. This seasonal salad works as a vegetarian meal or a nutritious side dish at your fall and winter holiday gatherings. (This recipe is gluten-free.)
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This wild rice salad is the star of the autumn season! It’s bursting with fall flavors from in-season fruits like pomegranates, apples, and oranges, as well as roasted pumpkin seeds.
Serving rice in a salad may seem like a wild concept (see my pun there :), haha) but it actually is a delicious and nutritious combination! The wild rice makes the salad filling enough to be a cozy comfort meal without the lethargic feeling you get after eating heavier dishes.
Reasons This Wild Rice Salad Recipe Works
- Made with wholesome ingredients! This salad is packed with fruit, grains, seeds, nuts, and vegetables; all of which are superfoods that will boost your mood and health during flu season.
- Perfect for Special Occasions! This isn’t your typical salad. Not only is it good for you, but it looks and tastes good too! Wild rice salad is a festive blend of flavors, textures, and colors that will definitely impress your family and friends. Bring it to your next potluck or Thanksgiving.
- Simple Prep! Aside from boiling the rice, this easy wild rice salad is quick to prepare. Just assemble your salad and combine a few ingredients for a simple vinaigrette.
- Super Versatile! I love serving this salad during the fall and winter but you can easily swap out some seasonal ingredients to suit the warmer months in spring and summer.
Wild Rice Benefits
Wild rice actually isn’t rice; it’s a whole grain with a slightly nutty, earthy flavor. However, it looks similar to rice and is cooked in the same way. If you’re not familiar with the benefits of wild rice, here are a few:
- It’s a healthier alternative to traditional rice because it is lower in calories and higher in fiber and protein. So it fills you up faster and curbs hunger.
- This plant-based protein is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants known to decrease the risk of heart disease.
- Unlike most grains, wild rice is alkaline-forming. Therefore, wild rice can reduce and prevent inflammation.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Arugula: This is a great base for a substantial salad. Its bitter, peppery flavor compliments the sweet, salty, and savory flavors of the dish.
- Fruit: I use pomegranate seeds and diced apples. The arils provide a fresh pop of color, the apples lend a nice crispness and both provide natural sweetness.
- Feta cheese: Crumble the cheese by hand instead of purchasing pre-crumbled feta. Pre-crumbled cheese tends to have a coating of anti-caking agent to prevent the cheese from clumping together. It doesn’t taste as good as a block of feta cheese. You can also skip the cheese to make this wild rice salad vegan.
- Wild rice: Wild rice absorbs water slowly, which means it takes longer to cook than other kinds of rice. While soaking the rice is not necessary, doing so does help speed up the cooking process. I like to soak the rice overnight the day before I am ready to make my salad. I recommend soaking your rice (like I did for this Mushroom Wild Rice Soup) for at least 30 minutes to give the rice the perfect texture!
- Nuts: Chopped pecans and toasted almonds bring a nice crunch to this salad. Be sure to use toasted almonds for a tasty, savory flavor.
- Pumpkin seeds: Use hulled seeds. They add more texture to the salad and contain more nutrients than pumpkin seeds without the shells.
- Scallions: These should be thinly sliced.
Orange Vinaigrette Ingredients
- Orange juice
- Orange zest
- Honey (or agave for vegan option)
- Apple cider vinegar
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
How to Make Wild Rice Salad
COOK THE WILD RICE. Boil the wild rice according to the package directions. Once the rice is cooked, remove it from the heat and let it cool completely before using.
MAKE THE ORANGE VINAIGRETTE. Put all the ingredients in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well to combine. Use as desired. Store the vinaigrette in a mason jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Give it a shake before using.
ASSEMBLE THE SALAD. Add the cooled rice and the remaining salad ingredients to a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the ingredients. Toss the salad to combine the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Finally, garnish with more pomegranate seeds and crumbled feta cheese.
- This recipe makes 4 large servings of wild rice salad or 8 small side salad servings.
- If you can only find wild rice blend make sure it’s a rice mixture of wild rice and long-grain brown rice so that the cooking time is similar.
- Mix the salad well because there are a lot of ingredients and you want each bite to be well-balanced.
Optional Add-ins and Substitutes
- Protein: Shredded chicken, turkey, or pork
- Dried Fruits: Dried cranberries or cherries
- Squash: Roasted butternut squash or pumpkin
- Vegetables: Sweet potatoes, red onions, green onions, radishes, snap peas, corn, avocados, or fresh herbs
- Salad Base: Watercress, spinach, or kale
- Cheeses: Goat cheese, bleu cheese, or parmesan
- Alternative Grain: Quinoa
Is wild rice gluten-free?
Yes. Wild rice is naturally gluten-free (especially because it is actually a grass seed)!
Can I make this ahead of time?
You can definitely cook the wild rice beforehand. To save even more time, prepare the dressing in advance too. Store both in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
How can I store leftover wild rice salad?
The salad lasts well if placed in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Revive the salad with a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
I Hope You Enjoy This Wild Rice Salad Recipe!
If you try the recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments. Leave a quick review & star rating ★ below! Take pictures, tag #goodfoodbaddie, and share them with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest! I love seeing my recipes come to life in your kitchen.
More Healthy Salad Recipes To Try!
- Superfood Salad
- Southwest Chicken Salad
- Easy Smoked Salmon Salad
- Cantaloupe Salad with Arugula and Prosciutto
- Detox Cucumber Salad
Wild Rice Salad With Pomegranate and Arugula
Wild Rice Salad
- 4 oz Arugula
- 2/3 cup Pomegranate
- 1 Apple peeled, cored, and diced
- 1/2 cup Feta cheese crumbled
- 1.5 cups Wild rice
- 1/4 cup Pecans chopped and toasted
- 1/2 cup Almonds sliced
- 1/2 cup Roasted and salted pumpkin seeds hulled pumpkin seeds
- 2 Scallions light and green parts, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup Orange juice
- 1 tbsp Orange zest
- 2 tbsp Honey
- 2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp Olive oil
- ¼ tsp Sea salt plus more to taste
- ¼ tsp Pepper plus more to taste
- Start by rinsing the rice in a large fine mesh sieve. Then, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Add the rinsed rice and continue boiling, reducing heat as necessary to prevent overflow. Cook for 40 minutes to 50 minutes, until the rice is tender.
- Remove from heat, drain the rice, and fluff with a fork. Allow the rice to cool completely before using.
- Add the cooled rice and the remaining salad ingredients to a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over the ingredients. Toss the salad to combine the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with more pomegranate seeds and crumbled feta cheese.
How To Make The Orange Vinaigrette
- Put all the ingredients in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well to combine.
- Use as desired. Store the vinaigrette in a mason jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 day. Give it a shake before using.