Although it is called a salad, this combination is diverse and hearty enough to be a main course, even in winter. The trick to infusing orange juice’s bright flavor into the wild rice is to combine the two when the rice is still warm, so that the grains soak up the liquid. Marinated baked tofu, an extra-firm, agreeably chewy product, may be substituted for the cooked chicken (the sesame-peanut-flavored variety is ideal for this recipe), and dried cranberries or golden raisins may stand in for the dried cherries.
Cook wild rice according to package directions or use this method: Rinse the rice and combine it with 1 teaspoon salt and 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to simmer, cover, and cook over medium-low flame until rice is tender but still a bit chewy, 35-45 minutes. Meanwhile, combine orange juice, dried cherries, vinegar, mustard, ginger root and garlic in a large bowl. Whisk in sesame oil a little at a time.
When rice is done, strain off any remaining water, return rice to the pot, and place it over a medium flame. Keep heating it for a few minutes, stirring often, until remaining moisture is absorbed. Add the rice and chicken to dressing in the bowl and toss gently. Let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally, 30-60 minutes before serving.
Cut the green onions in half lengthwise and slice them diagonally into 1-inch pieces. Stir green onions into salad and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, arrange spinach leaves in star pattern on individual serving places. Heap some wild rice salad in the center of each plate and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
Copyright by Terese Allen