Wild Rice with Dried Apricots & Toasted Pecan Salad with Port Vinaigrette

A Lovely Ladies Luncheon…

I catered a party for my absolute favorite ladies yesterday. It’s an annual luncheon and I have done it for about 5 or 6 years. (…but who’s counting!)

Anyway, one of the things I made was a rice salad that had lots of dried and fresh fruit in it.

I changed it a bit – I had no port and used dry sherry instead, which is a fine substitute. I also bought a rice mixture that had several grains – wild rice and regular. I am not a big fan of straight wild rice. Also, I left out the pecans – too many people are allergic to nuts these days.  It turned out very well and a few of the ladies have asked for the recipe – so here it is!

Wild Rice with Dried Apricots & Toasted Pecan Salad with Port Vinaigrette

Serves 8 – 10

Salad:
1 cup wild rice
4 cups cold water
½ tsp salt
1 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/3” pieces
1 cup dried currants
2/3 cup dried figs, cut into 1/3” pieces
¾ cup ruby port
4 celery ribs, diced
5 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red apple, peeled, cored and diced
½ cup seedless green grapes, cut in half
½ cup pecans, toasted, chopped

Port Vinaigrette:
½ cup reserved ruby port (from soaking dried fruits)
Zest of 2 oranges (about 2 Tbs)
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbs)
1 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
¾ tsp salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
½ cup olive oil

To prepare the salad: 
Wash the rice in a fine meshed strainer, then place the rice in a bowl.  Pour enough boiling water over the rice to cover.  Soak for 30 minutes to allow the rice to soften.  Drain.

Place the rice in a large saucepan with the cold water and salt.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low.  Cover and simmer until the rice is tender but not mushy, about 25 minutes.  Drain the excess cooking liquid from the rice and set the rice aside to cool.

Meanwhile, combine the apricots, currants, and figs in a medium bowl.  Add the Port and soak for 30 minutes.  Drain well and reserve ½ cup of the Port in a medium bowl for the dressing.  Combine the soaked fruited, wild rice, celery, green onions, apples, grapes, and pecans in another large bowl.

To make the dressing:
Mix the reserved Port, orange zest, lemon juice, vinegar, ¾ tsp of salt, and ½ tsp pepper in a blender. With the blender running, gradually add the oil and blend well.

Toss the rice mixture with enough vinaigrette to moisten and coat.  Season the salad to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Do ahead:
The salad can be prepared the day ahead, then covered and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature and season with salt and pepper before serving.

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