Last winter, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the book “In Winter’s Kitchen” by a Minneapolis chef and writer named Beth Dooley. After reading just a few pages, I knew it would become one of my favorite books about food. Dooley highlights a different local food in each chapter, and weaves in stories about the food’s history and her personal experience cooking with it, alongside tidbits from her interviews with local farmers and others in the food scene.
Both wild rice and cranberries, the two main ingredients in this pilaf, are highlighted in Dooley’s book. After learning about their intensive growing and harvesting processes, I appreciate these Midwestern staples in a new way.
When I picked up the wild rice to make today’s dish, mental images of Native Americans in northern Minnesota with long poles on canoes popped into my mind. And when I reached for the fresh cranberries, I was taken back to Dooley’s story about the bogs of Wisconsin, and the intensive process of growing this seasonal fruit.
Learning about these two crops, and imagining their journey to my table, makes me feel a little more connected to this dish and the history of Midwestern foods. I hope you will feel the same when you make it!
Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf with Cranberries
A delicious side dish with Midwestern roots. This vegan and gluten-free dish would be especially tasty on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table!
- 1 cup wild rice dry
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 onion diced
- 2 pounds mushrooms sliced
- 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
- 2 to 3 heaping tbsp fresh sage chopped
In a small saucepan, bring three cups of vegetable broth to a boil. Add wild rice, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Drain excess liquid.
While the rice is cooking, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook down for ~10 minutes. You may want to add a splash of vegetable stock for more flavor. Finally, add cranberries and sage. Cook for another 5 minutes or until cranberries begin to "pop."
Add rice and mushroom/cranberry mixture to a serving dish and mix until combined. Serve warm with more fresh sage, to taste.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 142 kcal, 3 g fat, 26 g carb (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 5 g protein
*nutrition facts are estimated via meal planning software and may not be exact