I’ve been sitting in front my computer screen for like…45 minutes…trying to come up with something clever to say about this recipe. But sometimes you gotta know when to quit and just get on with it. So let’s do that, shall we?
This autumn grain bowl with maple-thyme vinaigrette is a burst of fall flavors, and it’s piece de resistance is that it’s not a soup or a stew. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some fall soups and stews, but I’d have a revolt on my hands if I didn’t change it up from time to time for the husband. One of the things I love about a warm grain salad is that it fulfills all of the basic requirements of soup or stew – hearty veggies, filling grains, rich flavor – without actually being one. And like it’s fellow fall staples, it keeps for days upon days in the fridge. You can eat this stuff all week and it just gets better every day.
In my opinion (because I write this blog, duh) the magic of this salad is the maple-thyme vinaigrette, which is packed with sweet and savory flavor and just the right kick of acidity. You’ve gotta dole out the big bucks for pure maple syrup here, but it’s totally worth it. As for the rest of it, I totally winged it and you can too. I’ve learned the hard way that there are some things in life I shouldn’t wing – like, say, helping my kid with his animal diorama project – but this salad isn’t one of them.
Don’t have wild rice? Use faro or quinoa. Dislike sweet potatoes? Try purple or yukon golds. Add in basically any dried fruit, seed or nut you have on hand, and whatever soft bitter greens and seasonal fruit happen to be at the market. I imagine that pears or spinach would be excellent substitutions here. I wanted to add in some pickled red onions, but I was fresh out. Such is life. I did, however, have some left-over pulled pork in the fridge, so I tossed some into a hot skillet until it was hot and crispy and the result was a full, satisfying meal. Roasted chicken or even tofu would work here too. Playing with your food is highly recommended in this case.
- Grain Salad
- 1 c wild rice (or your choice of grain)
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 large sweet potato, diced
- 1 bunch swiss chard, roughly chopped
- 1 granny smith apple, diced
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 3 tbsp roasted salted pepitas
- ½ cup roasted salted pecans
- Maple-Thyme Vinaigrette
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp whole grain dijon mustard
- ½ cup unfiltered extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
- Prepare your grains per package instructions. For the wild rice, I used one cup of wild rice to cups of water with a dash of salt and set the rice cooker. It takes about 45 minutes.
- While the rice/grains are cooking, roast the sweet potato. Heat the avocado oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the sweet potato to the pan, toss to coat in the oil, and sauté until browned, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
- To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously until combined.
- Toss the cooked grains and sweet potato with the chopped chard and granny smith and top with the cranberries, pepitas, roasted pecans, and dressing to taste. Serve warm. Add a protein of your choice such as pulled pork, roasted chicken, or grilled tofu or a complete meal.