Two weekends ago we set off in search of wild asparagus. It was a sunny Spring morning and we piled into the car with my parents on our first spontaneous adventure since Anna arrived. I had visions of tender young spears poking up through brown field grass and adorable photo ops of a baby and fists full of asparagus. Mr. B recalled seeing a large patch of asparagus on public hunting ground last fall. So with a map in hand we set out to find the asparagus mother-lode.

Two hours and one hungry baby later we finally located the property. As can happen in Spring, the weather had turned from gentle and warm to a wicked cold wind whipping out of the North, slamming car doors shut and pushing anything in its path. I sat in the car and fed the baby while everyone else started searching for asparagus. My mom was the first one back to the car. Deciding after only 5 minutes that she would “help with the baby” rather than fight the nasty wind. My dad joined her a few minutes later, and then after about 10 minutes poor Mr. B returned cold and empty handed. We were too early and the asparagus had yet to brave the cold winds and spring from the ground. Our visions of finding mountains of asparagus were dashed so we did the next best thing- drove to the nearest Mexican restaurant and drowned our sorrows in chips and salsa!

Luckily, like any good hunter’s wife, I had prepared for such a possibility and had a pound of asparagus on hand just in case we struck out. A recipe from my favorite whole grain cookbook for a wild rice and asparagus salad held the perfect combination of spring flavors. Using wild rice as the base, a fresh Asian-inspired dressing of orange juice, sesame oil, and chopped chives coats the asparagus and rice with a sweet tang. Be sure to check the freshness of your sesame oils, as they can quickly become rancid and will impart an unpleasant bitter taste to the salad if this occurs.

Chewy grains of wild rice do not clump together like other rices and provide an excellent texture in this salad. Wild rice is an excellent source of fiber and a complete protein (containing all of the essential amino acids) providing 6.5 grams of protein per cup.

The wild rice and asparagus salad can be served warm, cold, or even at room temperature, making it an excellent choice for those who need something fresh and flexible. (Or for those of us who can’t seem to get a meal down without interruptions!) Served as a main course or alongside roast chicken or fish it is a quick taste of Spring when you need it most!

Wild Rice and Asparagus Salad Print Recipe

Recipe Thumbnail

Adapted from Deborah Madison and The Splendid Grain

Total Time: 15 months, 15 minutes

Serves Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Asparagus
  • 3 cups Steamed Wild Rice
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Chives
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Sesame Seeds, toasted
  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds, toasted
  • 6 Tablespoons Fresh Orange Juice
  • 3 Tablespoons Unrefined Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Unrefined Roasted Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Tamari Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Freshly Grated Orange Zest
  • 1 Tablespoon Grated Ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Raw Cane Sugar
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Minced Scallions
  • 4 Cups Mesclun or Mixed Salad Greens, washed

Cooking Directions

Trim off the tough ends of the asparagus and discard or set aside for another use (like vegetable stock or compost!). Cut the asparagus into one inch pieces on the diagonal. Place a small pot of salted water over high heat and bring it to boil. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute, or until the asparagus is bright green and only partially cooked through. Immediately drain the asparagus in a colander and rinse well under cold water. Set the asparagus aside to drain.
In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, sesame oils, tamari, vinegar, orange zest, ginger, sugar, scallions, and garlic.
In a large bowl combine the asparagus, wild rice, chives, parsley, and both types of sesame seeds. Drizzle the orange juice dressing over the top of the rice mixture and toss the salad until the dressing is incorporated throughout.
Line a large platter with the lettuce and spoon the wild rice and asparagus salad on top.
The salad can be served warm, at room temperature, and even cold.

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