When I think about the quintessential fall food, it includes wild rice, earthy nut flavors, sweet and tart cranberries, and all things sausage! I don’t even eat sausage, but it seems to go with stuffing, hearty breakfasts, and yes, even rice dishes. I’m unwilling to compromise adding sausage to my amazingly healthful dishes, however! Queue the vegan italian sausage!…

If you have followed my recipes, you’ll know I love bulgur wheat. I appreciate its texture to sub in for ground beef, or in this case, sausage. I love it so much, I’ve dedicated entire blogs to using this hearty grain. To add its vegan sausage goodness to this wild rice dish is an act of genius. And all it takes is adding the right spices with the bulgur wheat to provide just the right fall flavors with none of the inflammatory, saturated fat guilt!

That’s how this recipe started, rather ironic for a non-meat eater! And, then my thoughts wandered to wild rice. If you aren’t making a weekly gargantuous (is that really a word?) batch of this yummy grain, please reconsider. Also note, I’ve called out Lundberg’s brand in this recipe. Here’s why….Their combination of nutrient-dense grains includes rices that are soft and chewy, nutty, earthy, but not dry. Check out this lineup: long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice, whole grain wehani rice, and whole grain black japonica rice. The colors are beautiful, the flavors spot on, and the texture is perfect for a pilaf. Please don’t make this dish with straight brown rice or even white…you’ll cheat yourself of the nutrients and equally important, you’ll miss the flavor and character they provide for a fall dish.

Hearty vegan flavors; earthy, nutty grains and pecans; tart cranberries and sweet apples put together gives you one amazing dish that can be served and enjoyed alongside animal protein or it can stand alone as your main entree. You can even prepare this ahead of time and rewarm, so it’s easy-going too!

Grab your rice, and let’s get cooking!

WILD RICE PILAF WITH CRANBERRIES AND PECANS, makes 10 side dishes

Author: Kristen Tinker

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1.5 cups Lundberg mixed wild rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2-3 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced (approx 1 tbsp)
  • 1 apple, diced (I prefer honeycrisp or gala)
  • 2 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Italian seasonings
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • large pinch red pepper flakes (up to 1/8 tsp for spicy kick)
  • 3/4 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring 4 cups of vegetable broth to boil in medium saucepan. Add rice, cover, and simmer until tender, approximately 40 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Do not stir rice! Add additional hot water if rice dries out too quickly and is still not done cooking.
  2. In last 15 minutes of cooking, add bulgur wheat.
  3. In last 5 minutes of cooking, add cranberries to the top of rice. This will allow cranberries to rehydrate.
  4. Once rice, bulgur wheat, and cranberries are cooked and heated through, remove to a serving bowl, cover with foil and keep warm.
  5. Meanwhile, return saucepan to stove and warm a drizzle of olive oil. Place onions and apple in saucepan and saute until slightly golden, approximately 3-5 minutes. In the last minute, add chopped kale, garlic, and spices and saute once more until kale is slightly wilted but still a vibrant green and the garlic is fragrant.
  6. Add warm onion, garlic, kale, apple mixture to the rice/bulgur wheat mixture and lightly toss to incorporate.
  7. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to use.

If making ahead of time and refrigerated, keep pecans out until before serving, and allow rice mixture to warm to room temperature. Add a few teaspoons of olive oil, and warm in oven at lowest setting.