Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wild Rice, Black Cherry & Goat Cheese Salad and Cookbook Sundays # 4

Wild Rice, Black Cherry & Goats Cheese Salad 2

It's Saturday evening in my part of the world, which means that it's time to dust off another of my cookbooks and share something with you for Cookbook Sundays.  If you'd also like to scare a few moths out of some of your own seldom used cookbooks and join the fun, you'll find full details later on in this post.

It's also New Year's Eve here and, although I have no plans for partying, I still felt compelled to make something a bit special and seemingly celebratory for my dinner.  At the same time, since I've been a bit unwell this week, I wanted something that was both healthy and slightly comforting.

For healthy and comforting, one of the best places to turn in my opinion is the divine Heidi Swanson.  A couple of weeks ago I shared a recipe from her first book Super Natural Cooking;  however, I thought it was time I turned to her more recent book Super Natural Every Day.

I came across a recipe for "Whole Grain Rice Salad", which certainly sounded wholesome enough, but that seriously doesn't sound like celebration fare, now does it?  Still the picture in the book looked pretty and a read through of the ingredients convinced me that this dish could indeed be a festive dinner.  Now, really, don't you think that a dish of wild rice, studded with black cherries, toasted hazelnuts, goat cheese and tossed with a cherry vinaigrette, and which looks like this, deserves a better name than Whole Grain Rice Salad?

Wild Rice, Black Cherry & Goats Cheese Salad 3

I did change things a bit from the original recipe.  Firstly, I used half wild rice and half brown rice, since my budget didn't run to using all wild rice.  The original recipe claimed to serve six, but since I didn't have five other people to feed, I reduced the amount of rice by half.  But as I still wanted this to be a substantial meal, and I wanted there to be leftovers, I kept all the other quantities roughly the same.  For the dressing I adjusted the ratio of vinegar to olive oil as I found it to be just a bit too, well ... vinegary.  I also added a bit of maple syrup to the dressing as I felt it need just a bit more sweetness - this of course might depend on how sweet your cherries are.  I replaced walnuts with toasted hazelnuts, just because I love them and also because I love the way shape of the hazelnuts echoes the shape of the cherries.  And, lastly, because I am ever one to gild the lily, I added some pomegranate seeds.

Wild Rice, Black Cherry & Goats Cheese Salad 1

Wild Rice, Black Cherry & Goat Cheese Salad
(previously known as Whole Grain Rice Salad)
adapted from a recipe by Heidi Swanson from
Serve 2 as a substantial meal or
serve 3 as a light meal or
serve 4 as a side dish
(for a vegan alternative omit the goat cheese)
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

125g (4.5 oz) wild rice
125g (4.5 oz) brown rice
3 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts
200g (7 oz) black cherries
125ml (4.2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
40ml (1.4 fl oz) white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
flaky sea salt
handful of crumbled goat cheese
small handful of baby basil leaves
small handful of pomegranate seeds (optional)

Put the rice into a large saucepan with plenty of salted water, and boil until tender - about 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cherry vinaigrette:  remove the pits from and combine one third of the cherries in a blender with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and maple syrup.  Blend until the mixture is smooth, taste and adjust any of the elements as necessary.  Set aside.

Once the rice is cooked, drain, and put into a large bowl along with spinach leaves and most of the hazelnuts.  Toss together well until the spinach begins to wilt slightly.  Add a generous amount of the dressing and toss well.  Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Cut the rest of the cherries in half and remove the pits.  Then stir most of them into the rice.

Tip everything out onto a platter.  Strew the remaining cherries and hazelnuts over the top, along with chunks of the goat cheese and the pomegranate seeds.  Finally stud with the sprigs of basil and serve immediately.

This is a great dish for a summer celebration - packed full of amazing flavours and textures - and I do hope you'll try it.

This last year has not been without its difficulties, and I won't be sad to close the door on it in a few hours time.  However, there have also been wonderful moments in my year - new friendships forged, the kindness of strangers, memorable travels, and the opportunity to start a new life in a new home and city.  Most of all I am immensely grateful for all of you who stop by here regularly, who take the time to read what I have to say, leave me your comments, and lend me your support and wisdom.  I am optimistic about the year ahead, and for all of you I wish you a happy and inspirational time in 2012.

Cookbook Sundays Badge 

Earlier I mentioned Cookbook Sundays.  What is that all about, you are perhaps wondering.  Well, if you're anything like me you have dozens of cookbooks gathering dust on your bookshelves, some of which have never even been cooked from.  Sure I spent hours browsing through them when I first bought them, marking all the recipes I was going to make with little post-it notes, and yet still those books languish in the bookcase and never make it to the kitchen.  There are others from which I have made but one recipe which was such a resounding success that I've made it over and over again, and yet somehow I've never made anything else from that book.  Sound a bit familiar?!

Take comfort - you are not alone, and now Cookbook Sundays is your opportunity to change that.  Every Sunday I'm going to share with you a recipe that I haven't made before from one of my ever expanding collection of cookbooks.  And, because I know that if you have read this far then you are guilty of this too, I'm inviting you to join in with me.  Each week my Cookbook Sundays post will have a linky for you to share something you've cooked from one of your cookbooks.

The rules for joining in are simple:
  1. Your post must state the author and the title of the book your recipe has come from.
  2. Your post must mention Cookbook Sundays and link back to this post.  Including the Cookbook Sundays badge is optional, but always appreciated.
  3. You may submit as many entries as you like, and you may use the same cookbook as many times as you like.  Old posts are also welcome.
  4. Lastly,  remember that what goes around, comes around - one of the reasons you are participating in this is because you want people to read your posts, so do the right thing and go and visit a few of the other participants. 
Now, go and dust off those cookbooks and get cooking!  Use the linky tool at the end of this post to submit your entry/entries - simply scroll down to where it says "You are next ... Click here to enter", and then follow the instructions.  The linky will be open for one week.

Lastly, if you would like to use the Cookbook Sundays badge in your post, simply copy the code in the box beside the badge below and paste it into your post.  Feel free to also use it in your sidebar if you wish.



  1. heidi's cookbook is by FAR my favorite...everything in it is so inspired. I haven't made this salad yet, but obviously I need to! I love all the flavors in it. Happy new year, chica!

  2. nice idea, thanks for sharing

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  3. Happy New Year!!! AND I just copied the badge and made a note to participate! I am going to do this!

  4. That salad does look lovely and festive and healthy and you're right about renaming it - far more enticing (sorry, Heidi).

    I do hope 2012 fares better for you so Happy New Year, Sue.

    I will get around to Cookbook Sundays...

  5. The perfect salad after the festive season eating, I really must pick up Heidi's book. I'll try and take part in your cookbook Sunday event when everything is back to normal, it's a good way to look through the books again and dust them off. I do have a few new ones on my watch list though. Have a fab 2012 Sue and hope to see you soon.xx

  6. @Joanne Joanne, you definitely need to make this one - this is totally your kind of salad - I know you will love it.

    Happy new year xo

  7. Hi Sue, wow that looks like quite the salad! I like the modifications you did.

    Happy, happy 2012 - and I do hope you feel better soon!

  8. This salad looks amazing. My new year resolution is to make sure i eat enough fruit and vegetables and this would be great to take to work instead of my normal sandwiches. Happy New Year.

  9. Your salad looks so healthy, and delicious, Sue!
    Will link up with you next Sunday!
    Happy New Year!

  10. I love cherries. This salad looks really delicious and I love that it is also healthy. Thank for posting.

  11. Happy New Year Sue! This salad looks so colorful and delicious. I need to drag Heidi's books. ;-)

    I am joining Cookbook Sunday's with a warming soup from Tender by Nigel Slater. Thanks for hosting!

  12. Sounds delicious and so perfect for cheering through to the new year. Hope 2012 brings you lots of good things. It has been good to make new foodie friends and I look forward to swopping recipes. My friend was very pleased to get the Heidi Swanson book for Christmas from me. I'm enjoying time off to read my new food books. Just need to get myself more organised for food blogging!

  13. @Pam That's great, Pam - really looking forward to having you join in. Best wishes for the new year to you too xo

  14. @Lesley Thanks Lesley - people often say "what's in a name?" - I'd say "everything"! Would be lovely to have you join in when you can xo

  15. @peasepudding Alli, you totally have to get Heidi's book - it's one of my absolute favourites. Look forward to you joining in - it's always good to revisit some of those books you haven't looked into for a while.

  16. @Mel Thanks, Mel - very happy new year to year too xo

  17. @Elisabeth Thanks Elisabeth - look forward to seeing you next week :-)

  18. @Jackie Thanks Jackie - I'm a huge fan for anything that tastes as good as it looks, and is healthy as well. Thanks for visiting :-)

  19. @Deb in Hawaii Deb, you must get your Heidi books down off the shelf. So glad you linked up your Creamy Parsnip Soup. I have recently ordered that Nigel Slater book - it is in transit at this very moment - can't wait for it to arrive. Happy 2012, my friend xo

  20. @Domestic Executive I'm filled with optimism for the new year, Julie - hope it brings great things for you too. Like you, I look forward to growing many of the new foodie friendships I've made this year, and maybe making some other new ones too. Glad your friend liked the book xo

  21. Happy New Year Sue!! Hope you are already feeling better. Salad looks amazing love the colours and maple syrup init yum!!

  22. Thanks, Ananda. I really like the maple syrup in the dressing - I think pomegranate molasses would have worked well too xo

  23. What a lovely salad! The cherries are a bit of a surprise, but it sounds like it all works beautifully.

  24. Hi! Thank you for your comment! Your salad looks wonderful too! He he! I laughed when I read the bit about the post-its - me too! I have recipe books gathering dust, the reason none of the recipes seem to get made is because I never have all the ingredients and somehow fail to plan ahead!

  25. I like rice salads and this one looks delicious. I'm glad you changed the name--the original seems too dull for this vibrant dish.

    Thanks for hosting!

  26. Wild rice and cherries just go together. So healthy looking.

  27. What a simply gorgeous salad! Am really liking fruit in my savoury salads, so this is a keeper.

    Also loving your photos!

  28. This is such a refreshing salad! Pomegranate is one of my favorite fruits and with so many vitamins! Have a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

  29. Hi Sue,
    Your plate of salad look so delicious with beautiful mixture of colours!
    I've just linked up a pickle! Thank you for hosting, have a nice day!

  30. Cookbook Sundays sounds fantastic! I'm about to move overseas and it's really crunch time trying to choose which select few will make the move with me! I'm inspired to do this. Thanks Sue. And a beautiful salad. Wild rice is something I'd love to work with more. Christina

  31. That looks yum - will have to try it out one day soon :)

  32. I was finally able to get my photo resized and participate with feta lamb bundles! Now I am off to visit some other yummy recipes.

  33. Thank you for visiting my blog! You've given me the opportunity to discover your wonderful food. This salad looks so delicious and nutritious!


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