Wild Rice Salad with Sweet Potato, Orange, Cherries & Toasted Pecans

Wild Rice SaladI just finished reading The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America, by Michael Ruhlman and while it was interesting, it made me realize a couple of things. One is, I’m glad that I’m not a chef. It’s a hard life. I can barely take the stress of preparing three meals a day for two people, let alone service for tens or even hundreds. The second thing is, I could never go to the Culinary Institute of America.  It should be called The Bloody Animal Carcass Institute of America (though the book covers a period back in the 1990s, so things may have changed there). There is brief mention in the book of a class (one class mind you, not a full course) on vegetarianism, and it takes place in a basement room towards the end of one’s education at the Institute.  Sounds pretty half-arsed and halfhearted to me.

However, I did glean something delicious from the book. The author describes a menu at one of the restaurants (where students do the cooking as part of their education) which included a wild rice salad with toasted pecan dressing. Sounded like a nice title for a recipe. I put down the book and jotted down some ideas. The result is this no-oil, animal-free salad. No butchering required.


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Wild Rice Salad with Sweet Potato, Cherries & Toasted Pecans

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  • Prep Time: 20
  • Total Time: 20


Salad doesn’t have to mean greens. This easy wild rice salad is bursting with complex flavors and textures.




  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. brown rice miso
  • black pepper, to taste


  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato, roasted, cooled, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup wild rice and brown rice blend, cooked and cooled slightly
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
  • dash salt & ground black pepper
  • dash of poultry seasoning
  • zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.
  2. Add the salad ingredients and gently toss to combine. Let salad sit for a little while for flavors to meld – then serve at room temperature on a bed of fresh, crisp greens – sprinkled with additional toasted pecans, if desired.


  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 340
  • Sugar: 6
  • Sodium: 317
  • Fat: 10
  • Saturated Fat: 1
  • Unsaturated Fat: 8
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 55
  • Protein: 10
  • Cholesterol: 0


Dry Wild Rice

41 thoughts on “Wild Rice Salad with Sweet Potato, Orange, Cherries & Toasted Pecans

  1. Little Sis

    Looks lovely. And I agree about CIA, although I suppose they might have made some changes more recently. My understanding is that the leaders in culinary education are all still pretty wedded to traditional French cuisine as the core of the program, which means a lot of butchering I guess. Somehow the market vegetables and portion sizes of the French plate don’t seem to permeate American culture as well as the meat and meat related techiques.

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      I found the attention to sauces in the curriculum really interesting – so French – and so far removed from the way that I cook! I suppose the idea is that one has an excellent, solid base for working in a variety of kitchens. An fascinating read, but again, I’m glad I’m just a “home” cook!

      1. biggsis

        We do seem to focus on French meat and wine and not their abundance of vegetables. I sure am finding that I crave vegetables everyday and do not crave meat. Perhaps there is a need for a Culinary Institute of Vegetarian Americans – CIVA! Kind of catchy ; )

  2. Shira

    Totally hear you on the chef thing!! I am the same – it is much more appealing to cook for fun (and what fun it is!), and this salad looks so hearty! That dressing sounds divine! 🙂

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Thanks, Shira! The book was fascinating in so many ways, but wow..a guaranteed stressful job when one graduates! And the heat! And not being outside! And the long hours! Okay, I’ll stop there ;-).

      1. tinykitchenstories

        Ugh. Throat is almost better, as is the hamstring. No hills for me for a while! Thanks for the good thoughts! And for the VVP. I love it and can’t wait for VVP2!

  3. Somer

    Ha ha! I just packed away my cookbook from the CIA last night! – and others too, not sure whether to donate them or glean them for bits here and there, and make a new database out of the salvageable recipes. My cookbook shelf in my kitchen doesn’t have any room for my non-plant based books anymore!

    I read Julia Child’s “My Life in France” last year. It was really lovely, but I think I would have a hard time re-reading it now. Aspic, butter EVERYWHERE, boeuf bourguignon, all kinds of fish with the head left on. I mean the lady was an AMAZING cook, but I don’t think that there was a single dish that she discussed that wasn’t drowning in cream or meat. What’s even more interesting is how much discussion went on in the book about how often they got sick they got from all the glutinous eating. They would literally be down for weeks on end after feeding their bodies that way. She discusses how badly it affected their liver, their bowels and more. Crazy that one could keep eating like that when it made them so ill.

    It’s so fun to have a new paradigm where things can taste crazy delicious WITHOUT added evils that will make us sick and eventually kill us.

    Anyway…. Lovely salad Annie! I make 95% of my dressings without oil now, and when I do use it now it’s just a drizzle rather than the gobs usually called for in recipes. It’s so fun to read your blog everyday and get inspiration!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Somer, I read that Julia Child book, too, long ago. I loved it – she was so charming. But you are right: ugh!! The heavy, heavy food. And so labor intensive. I have tons of cookbooks I no longer even reference. What to do with them?? It’s hard to part with them even though they have little meaning anymore in my life.

      1. Somer

        I love her and how she discovered herself through food! She was darling! Anyway, My America’s Test Kitchen cookbook is pretty fabulous, but even the vegetable recipes all use a lot of oil. Tricky tricky. I think that once I get a system down for the recipes out of them I will donate them to good will. Sad 🙁

  4. Gabby @ the veggie nook

    I could never be a chef- the hours seem terrible and I never want cooking to become a source of stress for me- cooking is my escape and happy place 🙂

    Beautiful salad. I love incorporating sweet dried fruits into savoury dishes!

  5. Cauldrons and Cupcakes

    Yum! But I find it hard to get that sort of cherry here in Oz. Any ideas for a good substitution? I was thinking cumquats, chopped into small pieces. Sweet on the outside and tart in the middle.

  6. S.

    Looks so good!!!! And healthy!!! And delicious!!!! I love sweet potatoes with a passion but I never thought of combining them with rice, clever!


  7. Averil

    An amazing salad as always Annie. Love that you’ve used wild rice… I love it. More so because of all the different textures and flavours going on there.

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