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Looking for a vegetarian main dish?

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This is the time of year when wild rice seems just right for Holiday menus. It is a truly American grain, growing as it does in our wetlands. It is almost impossible to cultivate and must be harvested with care in a very slow process. Once it gets to the store, then, it ought to be treated like the rare treasure that it is.

Wild rice doesn't have a strong flavor, so it takes seasonings very well, especially considering that it bursts open while cooked so that the inner, more absorbent surfaces are exposed. It does take some time to cook, though--it is not simply boiled like whole-grain brown rice. Typically the package instructions call for boiling and then for standing, hot, while the grains complete their little blooming process into cooked wild rice.

Once you have this large quantity that 3 cups will produce, you can make a very good main dish out of it. If you are looking for something light that can be followed by some Holiday-themed desserts, this is your meal.

A side dish that comes to mind for this grain salad would be roasted winter vegetables such as carrots, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, or whatever you like. You will find an extensive selection of fresh organic produce going on at Sprouts and Whole Foods in Tucson.

HOLIDAY WILD RICE

Ingredients:

3 cups wild rice, cooked according to package instructions
4 seedless organic oranges
3 Tablespoons organic red wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground organic white pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin organic olive oil
6 organic green onions, sliced
1 cup organic dried cranberries
1-2/ cup Italian parsley, chopped fine

After cooking the wild rice, place it in a mixing bowl and set it aside.

Prepare the oranges for the salad by cutting the peel off from top to bottom, working over another mixing bowl to catch the juice. When the oranges are peeled, cut out the sections and place them with the juice in the mixing bowl.

In another mixing bowl, combine the vinegars, salt andpepper. Whisk in the olive oil slowly.

Moving to a large salad bowl, combine the rice, scallions, cranberries, parsley, orange sections and juice. Toss them together gently.

Finally, drizzle the salad with the dressing and toss once more just before serving.

Crusty bread and a light rose wine would be good accompaniments for this dish, which will turn out to be quite filling and adequate for a winter's night.

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