We’ve been enjoying citrus season all winter long and it’s about time we celebrate with a bright and hearty salad! This one is a real treat for your taste buds combining nutty wild rice, earthy beets, and bright citrus that all just so happen to be nutritionally jam-packed, to boot.
We don’t discriminate when it comes to citrus, but chose oroblanco and blood orange for this particular recipe. Shane recently discovered the sweet and seedless oroblanco when he staged at Verbena, a new restaurant serving seriously beautiful seasonal California cuisine right down the street from our house. After supreming about a million of them, he really came to appreciate their sweetness and beautiful light hue and thought this salad would be the perfect recipe to incorporate them into. Substituting the oroblaco for its slightly bitter cousin, the grapefruit will work fabulously too.
We also threw in some blood oranges that we snatched up on a recent trip to one of our very favorite wineries, Spring Mountain Vineyard in St. Helena. They have a beautiful garden there that often produces more than they can eat and generously shared these tart beauties with us.
Oranges have a special combination of vitamin C and flavonoids that promote overall healthy goodness, especially when it comes to the immune system, adrenal glands, reproductive organs, and connective tissues like joints and gums. One of the most important flavanoids found in oranges is hesperidin, which has been shown to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol and to have awesome anti-inflammatory properties. Eating oranges can protect against cancer and fight viral infections too. All this plus they taste amazing!
Oroblancos or grapefruits are jam packed with vitamin C and flavanoids too, plus they’re excellent sources potassium and folic acid. They’re also high in pectin, a form of soluble fiber that has been shown to reduce cholesterol. Grapefruit consumption has even been shown to normalize hematocrit (volume percentage of red blood cells) levels, critical to avoid anemia if too low or risk for heart disease if too high. Phytonutrients in grapefruit called limonoids inhibit tumor formation by promoting the formation of a detoxifying enzyme, glutathione-S-transferase. This enzyme sparks a reaction in the liver that helps to make toxic compounds more water soluble for excretion from the body. Pretty powerful citrus!
The protein-rich wild rice along with the goat cheese beef up the salad enough to work as a main or serve it alongside your favorite animal protein. Speaking of wild rice, did you know this delicious and nutritious grain is not actually rice at all, but a seed harvested from tall aquatic grass? It’s native to cold rivers and lakes in places like Michigan, Minnesota, and Canada. So cool! Shane and I are both from Michigan and never came across this water-grass, but now I have this fantasy that on our next trip back home we’ll find a whole bunch of it just waiting to be hand-harvested. Just think how much you’d savor and appreciate every tiny grain!
- 2 cups wild rice (soaked for 2 hours then rinsed)
- 10-12 small to medium beets (2 inches diameter) trimmed, rinsed, and cut into wedges
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, ribs removed and cut into very fine strips
- 1-2 oro blanco grapefruits, supremed
- 2 blood oranges, supremed
- 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ¼ cup goat feta
- small pinch salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ¼ cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt (more to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper (more to taste)
- *any remaining juices leftover from citrus
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rinsed rice and 2 large pinches of salt in large saucepan big enough to hold rice and water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until al dente about 25 minutes. Drain and cool by spreading rice out on a large plate or baking sheet.
- While rice is cooking place rinsed beets in single layer baking dish with ¾ inch water, sprinkle with salt and a little olive oil. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 45 minutes or until tender. Check for doneness with the tip of a pairing knife which should easily penetrate the flesh once they are done. Let beets cool then slip off the skins, they should come right off. Wear gloves if you don't want your hands don't turn red!
- Place the thin strips of kale in a large bowl, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and a small pinch of salt. Thoroughly massage kale to soften it and break it down. Set aside.
- Make dressing by combining all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously until dressing is well combined. Season and adjust for taste if needed. Add dressing to the cooled rice reserving about ¼ cup for later and toss until rice is well coated. Fold in massaged kale, beets, and citrus being careful not to crush the delicate citrus segments.
- Sprinkle goat feta on top. Add remaining dressing before serving.