Native Americans in Minnesota (where I grew up) have been harvesting wild rice for thousands of years and do to this day, making it one of the few indigenous foods commonly acclaimed as part of Minnesota cuisine. There, wild rice turns up in “hot dishes,” pancakes, breakfast porridge, stuffing, and soup most prominently. “Wild” rice is now mostly cultivated, although sometimes you can still find the hand-harvested, truly wild variety, and as it’s considered a delicacy, you will pay two to three times the price of farmed “wild” rice. (Order truly wild rice on line, here.) I should add that we Californians are now free to consider wild rice a local food because California has come to rival Minnesota in the size of its farmed wild rice crop.
As much as I love the distinctive, earthy flavor of wild rice, I like it better mixed with other rice or grains than I do on its own. In recipes, I typically use four times as much regular rice as I do wild rice. Compared to brown rice, wild rice is higher in protein, and lower in fat and carbs–so it’s well suited to today’s dietary trends. If you’ve never cooked wild rice, treat it pretty much as you would brown rice–perhaps increase the cooking time a little–and you can’t go wrong. My adaptable recipe for wild rice croquettes is after the jump. Depending on your needs, you could use this recipe as a main dish in a vegan or vegetarian meal, as a side dish, and the basic recipe can even be modified to make stuffing. How’s that for versatile?
WILD RICE CROQUETTES
2 cups short grain brown rice
1/2 cup wild rice
4-5 medium mushrooms, minced
1 small onion, peeled and minced
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 stalk celery, diced
1/2 cup chopped seitan
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried herb(s) of choice: sage, thyme, rosemary
season to taste with: salt black pepper, umeboshi vinegar, soy sauce
1. Wash rices, combine in a heavy pot with 5 cups water or vegetable stock and a pinch of salt. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook about one hour or until rice is very tender and slightly sticky.
2. Meanwhile heat a sauté pan and sauté the mushrooms, onions, carrots and celery about 10 minutes. Add the seitan, parsley and dried herbs.
3. When rice is cooked, add the sautéed vegetables to the pot, season to taste and stir very well until completely combined.
4.Cool just enough so you can handle this mixture, then form into 8 burger-sized croquettes. (If your croquettes are reluctant to stick together, put half the mixture in a food processor with the blade inserted and purée. Add back and mix well to combine with the rest of the mixture in the pot.)
5. Wipe out the sauté pan, heat, add a little olive oil, and fry on medium heat about 5-10 minutes a side, or until nicely browned and crisp.
6. Serve hot with sauce or gravy of choice.
To make this recipe as stuffing: substitute long grain rice for short grain, use 1/2 cup less water, add 3/4 cup dried cranberries, and leave out the seitan.
CREAMY MUSHROOM SAUCE
(3 cups sauce)
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound soft tofu, pureed in a blender
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons cup white miso or to taste
2 teaspoons umeboshi plum vinegar or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (optional)
3 tablespoons rice flour dissolved in 1 cup soy or rice milk
1. Rinse and slice the mushrooms, then sauté in the olive oil adding the onion, garlic, and a little pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms begin to release water, turn down the heat and simmer until the mushrooms are very tender, another 10-15 minutes, add the nutritional yeast.
2. Meanwhile, puree the tofu with the miso and umeboshi vinegar and add to the mushrooms when they are tender, stir to combine. Increase the heat until this mixture just begins to boil, whisk in the flour and soy milk mixture and cook an additional 2-3 minutes Stir in the parsley, check seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately with pasta or grain dishes.