21 December 2021: Wild Rice, Mint & Pomegranate Salad

The Winter Solstice means our living space receives barely any light as the sun no longer is high enough in the sky to clear the brick walls of the re-purposed cotton factory in which we live. So, along with many others in New England, we needed a bit of brightness to remind ourselves that Winter can also be made light with some deep and beautiful colors. The clean taste of pomegranate seeds along with fresh mint and arugula brilliantly blended to create a perfect winter salad.

This salad recipe was adapted from the original developed by Laura Washburn in The Pressure Cooker Cookbook and is available from multiple vendors. The recipe found in the Washington Post was adapted by Stacy Zarin Goldberg.

Wild Rice, if not cooked thoroughly and correctly, can be pretty chewy and not in a good way, so it was interesting to (finally) learn how to adequately cook it using pressure cooking. While I’ve been informed that a pressure cooker has traditionally been a wedding gift of importance to many French brides, they’ve always frightened me. I’ve only recently become a fan of pressure cooking and followed the suggested cooking methods for an Instant Pot.

Wild Rice, Mint, and Pomegranate Salad

Adapted by Stacy Zarin Goldberg, Washington Post

Ingredients

FOR THE SALAD

  • 2/3 c soft dried apricots, peaches or mangoes
  • 2/3 c uncooked wild rice (4 ounces package)
  • 3 cups cold water (for InstantPot, use just 2 cups)
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 c pine nuts, toasted; may substitute shelled pistachios or pumpkin seeds (I used a mix of pine nuts and pistachios)
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 c diced)
  • 3 scallions, white and light-green parts, roughly chopped
  • Large handful fresh mint leaves
  • 1 small bunch baby arugula (about 4 ounces or 3 1/2 to 4 loosely packed cups)

FOR THE DRESSING

  • 1/4 c pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 c fresh pomegranate seeds

Method

For the salad:

In a medium bowl, add the dried apricots (could substitute dried peaches or mangoes) and pour enough hot water over them to cover. Let soak for 10 minutes.

Combine the rice and water in the pressure cooker. Lock on the lid and bring to high pressure. Lower the heat slightly, but maintain high pressure, and cook for 22 minutes. To cool, use the quick-cool method suggested by the manufacturer of your pressure cooker; or place the pressure cooker in the sink at a slight angle and run cold water on the top of the cooker and down the side, being careful not to let any of the water run over the pressure-release vent or valve. When cool, unlock and remove the lid, taking care to avoid any steam that is released as you open the cooker.

OR

If using an Instant Pot (I did) to make the rice, pour 2 cups water into the Instant Pot; then add the 1 cup of rice. Make sure the steam valve is sealed. Select PRESSURE (HIGH) and set to 28 minutes. (It takes about 10 minutes for the appliance to come to pressure before cooking begins.) Release the pressure manually by moving the pressure-release handle to “Venting,” covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Drain the rice, if necessary. Otherwise, fluff the rice and proceed as directed.

Pour the rice into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water. Allow it to drain, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Drain the soaked apricots, peaches or mangoes and roughly chop. Add to the rice along with the pine nuts, carrots, scallions, mint and arugula.

For the dressing:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pomegranate molasses, olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the pomegranate seeds.

Pour over the rice-vegetable mixture and toss to coat the salad evenly with the dressing.

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