This recipe came together several years ago when pulling together leftover bits from holiday meals. It turned out so delicious that Wild Rice Sweet Potato Salad is now a staple dish in my house. I originally used toasted pecans in the salad, but now use pepitas (pumpkin seeds) to emphasize the seasonal flavors of the dish and keep it nut free for family friends.
Wild Rice Sweet Potato Salad with Pepitas is a wonderful side dish fancy enough for the holiday table, yet easy enough to have on hand to put in the lunch box, or serve with cooked sliced chicken or grilled portabella mushrooms on top for a simple dinner with the family. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does.
Wild rice is actually not a rice at all, but a semi-aquatic grass historically grown in lake, bays and tidal rivers. The only grain native to North America, wild rice originated in the area of the upper Great Lakes. I live in Minnesota, so wild rice has always been a treat item used for the holidays and in autumn dishes during its harvest season. I love its nutty taste, the snappy texture and the way the grain opens when cooked. If you are looking for a warm way to serve wild rice, try Dairy Free Wild Rice Soup for a comforting and creamy soup featuring this unique grain.
The holidays are full of way-too-much craziness. It’s terrifically busy. Especially when preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. Even if we do a potluck-style meal, I tend to make most of the main dishes every year for a large crowd. Because there are several members of my family that must eat gluten-free, I want to be sure they don’t miss out on anything. This means I have a ton of tasks to accomplish. In order to make everything go more smoothly, I’ve learned to make some things ahead of time. I make some side dishes and freeze, thawing ahead of time and popping into the oven as soon as the turkey is out. This extra bit of planning really saves me time (and sanity) on the big day.
A few years back, I also learned to make gravy in advance. I almost kicked myself for not thinking of it sooner. Gravy is something that freezes beautifully. Once it’s made, you only have to thaw it, warm it, whisk it a bit, and add drippings from the turkey if you desire. That’s it. Your guests are none the wiser.
Oh how I love the side dishes of Thanksgiving. As soon as November comes around, I start fantasizing about glazed sweet potatoes, mushroom-y stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
Sure, Thanksgiving foods are notoriously heavy and rich and not-so-good for you. Does it need to be so?
Definitely not. Take cranberry sauce, for example. Traditional cranberry sauce is loaded with white sugar. This cranberry sauce, however, uses the better-for-you sweetener, coconut palm sugar, and mixes apples and pears in with those jewel-toned berries.
If that’s not enough reason to whip up some cranberry sauce a few weeks before the big holiday, how about looking at some of the nutrition benefits of cranberries. Cranberries are a great source of antioxidants, and loaded with fiber, Vitamin C and manganese.
Not only that, but if you mix a dollop of cranberry sauce in your morning oatmeal or vanilla yogurt, you have a breakfast that feels a little extra special!