The Perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish!
This Mandarin Wild Rice Salad recipe has been in our family for years. It’s a hearty autumn salad with cranberries, pecans, green onions, and mandarins with a delightful orange vinaigrette. It makes a perfect side for Thanksgiving or anytime as it goes great with many fall and winter dishes. I love it with roasted turkey, chicken or pork. When I had my tea room in California, I often served this in the fall in cute glass tea cups lined with spinach. Over the years, I’ve adapted it into this healthier version. The original version came from one of my mom’s collection of Army wives cookbooks.
Can you make the salad ahead of time?
Yes! Here’s how:
- Prepare the salad according to directions but save out the pecans and mint.
- Make the dressing.
- Store everything in the refrigerator.
- About 2 hours before serving, take out the salad, add the mint, pecans and dressing. Leave it out at room temperature until ready to serve.
Turn it into a main meal by adding leftover turkey or roasted chicken!
Mandarin Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries, Mint and Pecans
- 1 c. wild rice cooked according to directions on package (leave out any salt, butter or oil)
- 1 c. mandarin oranges fresh or canned
- 1/4 c. green onions chopped
- 1/2 c. dried cranberries You can use Craisins, however you will need to add 1 Smart Point to the total recipe count
- 1/4 c. pecans chopped
- 1/4 c. fresh mint chopped
- 3 T. red onion chopped
- 2 c. spring mix or fresh spinach
- Cook wild rice according to package directions.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Place chopped pecans on a baking sheet. Bake about 5 minutes stirring gently. (Or a quick way I use sometimes is to broil them for about a minute or so, watch carefully. They burn fast!)
- To make the salad - combine in a large bowl: rice, mandarins, onions, cranberries, pecans and mint.
- To make the dressing - combine in a liquid measuring cup or salad cruet: orange juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- About 2 hours before serving, spray about 4 sprays of the olive oil on the rice and mix. Add the dressing. Allow to sit for 2 hours at room temperature.
- Immediately before serving, line a pretty bowl with spring lettuce or fresh spinach. Add the rice mixture. Garnish with a piece of fresh mint if desired.