Going Wild for Wild Rice

vegan cabbage chickpea pilaf

Have I already sung the praises of wild rice?  Even if I have, I’m going to do it again, because I love the stuff.

Wild rice actually comes from grasses, three species of which can be found in North America.  It has a good amount of protein, some dietary fiber and apparently isn’t a half-bad source for B vitamins and minerals such as riboflavin, thiamine, folate and zinc.  I always passed on buying it because of how expensive it can be, but when I found a pound bag for $4.99 on a recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I couldn’t resist the chance to finally try this dark, nutty grain.

The first thing I made with it was the 5-Spice Harmony Bowl from the first Happy Herbivore cookbook, and I have to say that’s become a favorite of mine on nights when I’m cooking just for myself.  I use the basic recipe, which is based on the macro bowl trend, and add chickpeas to make it a full dinner.  I have a picture of it over on TwitPic; it tastes as good as it looks!

When I wanted something for my mom and I to share, I pulled out the Forks Over Knives cookbook and made Wild Rice, Cabbage and Chickpea Pilaf.  I love all things pilaf, and like any good vegan I’m obsessed with chickpeas, so it seemed like a good choice!

The ingredients are pretty basic: onions and carrots, bell pepper and cabbage with ginger and garlic as the main seasonings.  An entire bunch of scallions gets mixed in near the end of cooking time along with some cilantro, giving it a sort of Asian twist.  I really liked the addition of the scallions.  One of the things I love about cabbage is the crunch, and since the scallions don’t get cooked very much, they provide even more crunch to the dish.  I had to add extra ginger, though; it didn’t have quite enough for my taste. When it still seemed to be missing something, I grabbed half a lemon from the fridge and squeezed a bit of juice over it.  Somehow, that brought all the flavors together and really made the dish pop!

The recipe says the pilaf serves four, but I found it’s only enough for two if you’re eating it as a main dish.  When I went to cook the rice, I realized I’d been eating so much of it myself that I had to supplement what was with some wild rice blend I’d gotten at the co-op.  It worked out just fine since both had the same cooking time, though the other rice varieties in the blend did change the texture a bit so it wasn’t quite as firm as straight-up wild rice would have been.

vegan cabbage chickpea pilaf with wild rice closeup

I chose a simple side dish of Indian-spiced potatoes to make this a meal.  All I did was bake some potatoes, dice them up, sprinkle them with an Indian spice blend (courtesy of The 30-Minute Vegan) and cook them in a pan until they were nice and brown on all sides.  We’re still using potatoes from our gardens, believe it or not, so they were extra tasty!  My mom turned me on to cooking potatoes like this a few years ago, and I find it’s a really simple, tasty side dish that can be customized for just about any meal.

So there you have it, another foray into the world of cooking with wild rice.  I’m sure I’ll have many more in the future.  I can’t get enough of the stuff, especially now that I know I can pop down to Trader Joe’s and get more for a pretty decent price any time I want!

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