Lemon Herb Wild Rice Salad
on Nov 04, 2021, Updated Oct 23, 2023
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
With fresh lemon (both zest and juice) plus arugula, parsley and chives, this easy wild rice salad has vibrant flavors. You will love the combination of textures in each bite with nutty rice and pistachios. Serve this as a main dish salad or a side for Thanksgiving or another holiday. You can even make the rice and the dressing in advance, so then all you have to do is stir everything together.
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
This is a salad and a side dish in a single recipe. Whenever you put more grains than greens in a salad, it can play two different parts in a meal. You can consider it a two for one that gets you out of making another dish. Think of that as the ultimate timesaver.
Wild rice salads are hearty and filling. This grain is a wonderful pantry ingredient for sides and main dish salads that’s tasty served warm, at room temperature or cold.
This salad is a perfect blend of fresh lemon, herbs and rice. One of the things I like most about this salad is the mix of flavors and textures with chopped pistachios, parsley, chives and scallions.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This is what you need:
- Wild rice: Experiment with different brands. See which blend you like best.
- Vegetable broth: Similar to my strategy for soups, I always use low-sodium broth, so I can control the seasonings. You can also use chicken broth if you aren’t a vegetarian or vegan.
- Arugula: Whenever I’m adding a handful (or two) of fresh greens to finish a dish, I reach for arugula because it’s peppery. You can substitute with baby spinach.
- Scallions: These green onions have nice mild onion flavor that’s almost herby. You can substitute with 1/4 cup red onions. Then I would recommend increasing the amount of chives to 2 tablespoons.
- Parsley and chives: To enhance the rice with fresh herbs, I stir in both chopped parsley and minced chives.
- Pistachios are my first choice for nuts in this salad, but crunchy pecans, walnuts or pine nuts are also good.
- Lemon: Not letting anything go to waste, I mix the lemon zest into the rice and include the juice in the dressing.
- Garlic: The dressing also has a minced garlic clove.
- Olive oil: It’s best to use extra virgin olive oil.
- Mustard: I whisk a spoonful of whole grain mustard into the dressing.
- Salt & pepper: The easiest way to season the overall dish is to stir salt and pepper into the dressing.
You can add any of the following for subtle sweet taste:
- Dried cranberries: Add 1/3 cup dried cranberries. When you take them out of the package, make sure to pull them apart because they tend to stick together.
- Pomegranate seeds: Add 1/3 cup. They are tart and juicy and have more freshness than dried fruit.
- Apples: You can dice a crisp apple and stir it in.
As written, this rice salad recipe is vegan, but you can add one of the following cheeses, 1/3 cup crumbled:
- Feta cheese
- Goat cheese
Tips for Cooking Wild Rice
- Naturally grown in fresh shallow water, wild rice is a semi-aquatic grass. That means it’s not technically rice. It ticks the box for whole grains, and it is gluten free too. I love its wonderfully chewy texture and nutty flavor.
- Since the grains in a certain brand’s wild rice blend will vary from another’s, always start by reading the instructions on the package for recommended cook time.
- Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer with cold water before you cook it.
- The typical liquid to rice ratio is 4 to 1. That means you will need to 4 cups of liquid to cook 1 cup of dry rice.
- Instead of water, in this recipe I like simmering the grains on the stove in vegetable broth, so they turn out richer and creamier.
How To Make This Wild Rice Salad Recipe
1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the white parts of the scallions. Give them about 2 minutes to soften.
2. Pour in the wild rice and veggie broth. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the rice until tender, about 45 minutes.
3. Let the rice stand for 5 minutes. Then fluff it with a fork.
4. Make the dressing. Whisk together the garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl.
5. Stir the dressing into the rice in a large bowl.
6. Add the lemon zest, green parts of the scallions, arugula, pistachios, parsley and chives. Toss the ingredients to combine.
This salad is filling for a main dish lunch or dinner. If you want, you can add a protein like chicken, salmon or tofu. Also, this would be a great salad for Thanksgiving to go with roasted turkey. As mentioned, count it as a salad and side dish in one with fresh greens.
You can make the rice 2 days in advance. Just let it cool to room temperature before you put it into an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Also, you can make the vinaigrette up to 3 days in advance. Store it in a jar in the fridge. Let it sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes and whisk it together. This will give a chance for the oil to turn to liquid again if it has hardened in the cold temperature of the refrigerator.
Leftovers & Storage
You can store salad leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. The arugula will become soft and wilt, so I like to stir in another handful of fresh greens.
Do not overcook the wild rice. You want to it to have a chewy texture, especially because you are tossing with vinaigrette. I think of it like cooking al dente pasta.
If you do make the rice and dressing in advance, wait to combine them until right before you’re going to serve the salad. Then you won’t risk the rice grains getting too soft.
Always use fresh lemon juice in your cooking. I like to keep a couple lemons in the fridge at all times. They are so handy to add brightness when you need it. Never use the lemon juice that comes in a bottle because it has all sorts of other ingredients added in.
I think this salad turns out most interesting with wild rice, but you can substitute with another grain that’s comparable in bite and size. I do not recommend using quinoa because it is too small and tender. If you use one of these other grains, you will need to adjust the amount of liquid (veggie broth) as each one requires.
Yes. Diced sweet potatoes or butternut squash would be fantastic additions. Toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in a 400-degree F oven for about 30 minutes until they are lightly browned at the edges and soft in the middle.
More Salad Recipes
Kale Apple Salad
Apple Cabbage Salad
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Moroccan Carrot Salad
Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad
Sweet Potato Kale Salad
Fig Arugula Salad
Kale Fingerling Potato Salad
Chopped Autumn Salad
Fall Harvest Salad
Lemon Herb Wild Rice Salad
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated
- 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup baby arugula
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped pistachios
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the white parts of the scallions until they start to soften, about 2 minutes.
- Add the wild rice and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Check the doneness of the rice. The gains should be cooked but still chewy. (Also, refer to the package instructions for recommended cook time.)
- Drain any remaining liquid from the saucepan. Let the rice sit covered for 5 minutes. Then fluff it with a fork and transfer it to a large bowl.
- Make the dressing while the rice is cooking. In a small bowl, whisk the garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons olive oil.
- Stir the dressing into the rice.
- Add the lemon zest, green parts of the scallions, arugula, pistachios, parsley and chives to the rice. Stir to combine the ingredients
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1 crisp apple, diced You can add one of the following cheeses:
1/3 cup crumbled feta
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese You can also add roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash. Toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in a 400-degree F oven for about 30 minutes until they are lightly browned at the edges and soft in the middle.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.