If you are in need of a fantastic holiday side dish, look no further. This mixed grain salad is delicious. First and foremost. But it has other excellent qualities besides. It is easy to make. It beautifully complements all other foods on the table. It is best served at room temperature, so you need not worry about keeping it warm. It is readily portable to any gathering. And……
And something about it seems so wonderfully seasonal and festive. The salad is visually gorgeous, whatever the serving bowl/plate. (For the photo I used 250+ year old Canton.) And the flavors…. and textures. Though the ingredient list seems fairly basic, the flavors meld and contrast strikingly. The lovely rich graininess counterpoints both the sweetness of the fruit and the tangy-ness of the vinegar. The crunch of the nuts melds into the yielding softness of the other items. And all of the ingredients, both separately and together, seem entirely emblematic of a fall/winter harvest. Really and truly, I much rather would eat this salad than any ol’ slice off the turkey.
Though this salad is perfect for a holiday meal, it is delicious anytime, any time of the year. I’ve been making it for at least fifteen years or so, and am just as likely to prepare it in June as in November. Whether as part of a larger meal, or served by itself, it always seems like just the right choice.
Mixed Grain Salad with Dried Fruit and Sage
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 T oil
1 cup wild rice
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 cup wheat berries (hard or soft)
4 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup dried cranberries
6 T white wine vinegar
2 T walnut or olive oil
2 T sage, chopped (or 2 tsp dried sage leaves, crumbled)
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
In a large saucepan saute the onion in the oil until translucent. Add both rices, the wheat berries, and the broth. Add a little salt, if the broth isn’t salty enough. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer gently until the liquid is absorbed, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the raisins and cranberries.
Whisk together the vinegar, oil, and sage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir the dressing into the salad until it is fully incorporated. Fold in the nuts. Serve at room temperature.