Autumn Harvest: Wild Rice

November 7, 2012 by Kenmore

Posted by Guest Blogger- Jeremy Leven of

As we watch the leaves change on the trees and the days become shorter, we start getting into our cold weather routines. We spend a few extra minutes in the hot shower, we pour ourselves a little extra coffee or tea to combat the fatigue, and we tend to crave hot and heart foods that stick to our ribs. For many of us this means foods that are heavier, higher in fats and calories. For those of us trying to avoid packing on the holiday pounds there are plenty of full flavored savory combinations that won’t have you counting your calories, and will have you feeling entirely satisfied. One of my go-to pantry items once the weather begins to cool off is wild rice. Wild rice is an indigenous American ingredient, like sweet corn, tomatoes, and peppers. But unlike these common ingredients, wild rice is often overlooked. Wild rice is a food source packed with a ton of deep earthy flavor, otherwise known as umami.

Wild rice is the seed of the marsh grass known as zizania Palustris, native to the upper Midwest and northern Great Lakes area of the United States and Canada. Wild rice has been eated by Ojibwa Indians and settlers tot he Midwest for hundreds and (in the case of the Ojibwa) thousands of years. The Ojibwa word for wild rice is manoomin, meaning ‘good berry’. It is considered to be a sacred component of the Ojibwa cultural heritage. Aside from its cultural and historical significance, wild rice has many nutrients and minerals to keep you going through the chilly days of autumn when it is harvested, and can be dried and saved for a winter ration. Wild rice is high in protein, lysine, dietary fiber and low in fat. It is a good source of B vitamins, manganese, zince, b6, niacin and phosphorus. These are essential minerals that help body functions running smoothly, and give you long lasting energy.

Here is a recipe for a heart wild rice dish that won’t have you counting calories:

Wild Rice Pilaf w. Smoked Turkey, Chestnuts, and Dried Cranberries


1 cup dried wild rice > will yield 4 cups of cooked wild rice

5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

1 smoked turkey neck or two smoked turkey wings (optional)

1 dried bay leaf

2 cloves of garlic

½ cup dried cranberries + 1 cup hot water

4-5 chestnuts, roasted and peeled

3 scallions, green part only

1 squeeze of lemon juice

1 tbsp of fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp olive oil


  • Combine dried wild rice with the stock, garlic, bay leaf, and smoked turkey in a pot.
  • Bring pot to a boil and turn down to a simmer, let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes to avoid clumping. Make sure that all the wild rice has split open during the cooking process, otherwise the teture of the rice will be too brittle for most tastes.
  • If there is any excess stock drain away the liquid, removed the bay leaf, garlic, and turkey.
  • Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and poor over the dried cranberries to soften them up. Let steep for about 10 minutes and drain the water.
  • Rough chop the chestnuts and combine with the drained cranberries.
  • Saute the chestnuts and cranberries with the olive oil for approx 3-4 minutes, or until the chestnuts just begin to brown.
  • Slice the scallion tops thinly.
  • Toss the wild rice pilaf with the chestnuts and cranberries, and sprinkle the green onions over the top of your pilaf and serve.

About the Author:

Jeremy Leven is the Chef and Founder of Tuesday Night Dinner, and underground supper club in Chicago. Jeremy earned his culinary degree from the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago, where he is currently earning a degree in restaurant and hospitality management. Jeremy has staged at a number of restaurants in Chicago including Lula Cafe, Vermillion, Bin 36, and Urban Belly before committing himself full time to Tuesday Night Dinner.

Check out Jeremy’s Blog- 



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