I just love new food discoveries. You’d think after so many years of experimenting, the fresh ideas and light bulb moments would be few and far between, but I have to say, with utter glee, that this is not the case.
My latest and greatest breakthrough has been sprouting wild rice. As someone who likes to eat predominantly raw food in the warmer months, and avoid turning on the stove, this technique has seen me through the last few weeks with great delight.
The process of sprouting wild rice is very simple, however, requires a little planning ahead. From raw rice to a fully “bloomed”, edible product, you’re looking at 2-3 days, most of that time being spent doing everything except fussing over your future meal. All it takes is a little soaking time, then a few rinses twice a day until the seeds have opened up. This process is called “blooming” because the seeds actually unfold, very much like little petals, revealing the pale, tender insides. It’s a really fun thing to watch, however slowly, and totally groovy to eat something you’ve seen transform just with the power of water and a little patience.
Let’s get Wild!
Wild rice is not a rice or grain at all in fact, but the seed of aquatic grass that grows along the shores of freshwater lakes in Canada and the Northern US. It’s a little more expensive than other rice varieties, but that is because it is often harvested by hand. So cool!
Wild rice is also, of course, wildly nutritious. Containing high levels of protein, fiber, iron, and calcium, wild rice is also gluten-free. It is extremely high in folic acid, an essential B-complex vitamin lacking in many people’s diets. Just half a cup of cooked wild rice yields 21.3 mcg of folic acid, where brown rice offers only 3.9 mcg. The niacin content of wild rice is also notably high with l.06 mg for 1/2 cup cooked. Potassium packs an 83 mg punch, and zinc, which is usually available in trace amounts, registers 1.1 mg.
Wild rice is a wonderful alternative to any grain that you would use in either hot or cold dishes. My favourite is just to use it in hearty salads, like the recipe I have for you today. It’s rich, nutty flavour pairs well with other earthy foods like beets, sweet potato, pumpkins and squash. As we are slowly working our way into autumn (eek!) you’ll notice those veggies showing up in the market more and more.
This salad took advantage of all the amazing produce that is in the garden right now: a rainbow of beets (the Chioggia variety are my favourite – so psychedelic!), as well as purple onions, and fresh herbs. I also added sunflower seeds for crunch, which you can also soak, but just overnight. The dressing I made is a potent ginger blend that is super lively and bright! I love ginger and beets together, as the feisty tuber’s fire contrasts so well against the earthy flavour of beetroots. Simply gorgeous!
Sprouted Wild Rice and Beet Salad with Ginger Dressing
1 cup / 160g raw wild rice, soaked for 2-3 days (will yield about 2-3 cups)
6-8 small beets in various colours, if possible.
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight
1/3 cup each parsley and mint, leaves only, chopped
a couple spring onions or 1 small red onion, sliced
sprouts to serve, if desired
2 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. maple syrup or raw honey
1 ½ Tbsp. minced ginger
pinch of salt to taste
1. Rinse rice well and place in a glass jar or bowl with fresh, pure water. Let soak outside of the fridge overnight. In the morning drain and rinse the rice, then cover with fresh water and put in the fridge. Drain and rinse the rice at least twice per day for 2-3 days until the rice has “bloomed” – some or all of the grains will have split open, and it should be tender to eat.
2. Once you have sprouted the rice, drain and rinse and place in a large bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients together, then pour half over the rice and fold to coat.
3. Peel beets. Using a mandoline or shape knife, slice beets into thin rounds. Place in the bowl with rice and remaining ingredients. Pour the rest of the dressing over and toss. Garnish with sprouts and mint flowers, if you have some. Serve immediately.
Note: if your rice remains crunchy and none of the grains split after 3 days, your rice might be too old for the sprouting method. Instead, simply boil the rice you’ve tried to sprout, and it should cook in 15-20 minutes. Then buy some new rice and make sure to check the packing and expiry dates before purchasing to ensure freshness. Give it another shot!