Wild Rice, Quinoa & Mixed Mushroom Salad

This cold winter season is simply ‘calling for’ a warm mix of wild rice, quinoa and mushrooms.                    

But, before we get our hands down on preparing the salad, let’s have an overview of its basic ingredients:

1. Wild rice


The wild rice are 4 species of grasses forming the genus Zizania, and the grain that can be harvested from them. The wild rice (most commonly Zizania aquatica or Zizania palustris) is actually a semi-aquatic grass that historically has grown in lakes, tidal rivers and bays, in water between 2 and 4 feet deep.

One of only 2 commonly-eaten grains native to North America (the other is corn), wild rice originated in the area of the upper Great Lakes in what is now both the U.S. and Canada.

The other 2 varieties of wild rice also exist worldwide: Zizania texana, in the San Marcos River area just north of San Antonio, TX, and Zizania latifolia, a variety found in Asia, prized more for its greens and eaten as a vegetable , and then for its grains.

Wild rice is slightly higher in protein than most other whole grains, and is a good source of fiber, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, Vitamin B6, and niacin. Research on the health benefits of wild rice is scarce, as the grain comprises such a small part of our food supply. The few studies that do exist, however, show tantalizing promise.

The researchers at the University of Minnesota, in the year of 1994, determined that wild rice is extremely high in antioxidants. More recently, in the year of 2009, the scientists at the University of Manitoba analyzed 11 different samples of wild rice, and found that the antioxidant activity of wild rice was 30 times greater than that of the white-rice control.

Also in 2009, researchers from China a (in an animal study) found that wild rice was effective in lowering cholesterol and other lipid measures.

  1. Quinoa

The quinoa is native to the state of Bolivia and is a ‘relative’ of spinach, beets and Swiss chard—we bet you are not familiar with this fact. It comes in 3 varieties (whole grain white, red and black) and it is classified as a nutritional powerhouse.

Just 1 cup of quinoa contains 8grams of protein, 5grams of fiber, 15% DV iron, 30% DV magnesium, 19% DV folate and the heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

The quinoa is also a complete protein, which means it provides all 9 essential amino acids necessary for good health, hence the name ‘essential.’ Human body cannot produce these essential nutrients itself, so you have to get them frequently through good food.

These 9 amino acids support strong muscles, keep our immune systems in top-notch form and also do lots of other things to keep our bodies healthy—the thing is, not all plant-based proteins are created equal.

Wheat, rice, and most other grains, are missing one or more essential amino acids, but quinoa is a ‘one-stop shop.’ Now, isn’t this really nice? So, with the quinoa, it is obvious that the word ‘wholesome’ takes on a whole new meaning!

And when it comes to our organic quinoa grains, we always source the Royal Bolivian one because we have our reasons for doing so.

  1. Organic or grass-fed butter – make your own choice

How is butter made? Let’s start at the beginning.

Cow’s milk is separated into milk and cream. Butter is made from agitating (churning) this cream until the fat globules stick together and separate from a thin liquid called buttermilk. In the U.S., commercial butter must be at least 80% fat. The rest is generally water, milk solids and salt.

Basic butter quality is determined by freshness, fat content (higher fat means a richer product) and salt levels. Salting both flavors and preserves butter, helping it to last up to several months longer than unsalted butter. 

The longer shelf life of salted butter is both a blessing and a curse. Added salt means that your butter in the fridge or on the store shelf stays fresh longer, but it also means that the store can sell you older butter, and the butter manufacturer can use older cream to make the butter.

In general, quality flaws and age cannot be ‘hidden’ in unsalted butter. Plus, when you use butter as an ingredient, the salt level in the butter can change the flavor of your finished good.

This is something bakers, in particular, think about. For these reasons, the standard advice is to go with unsalted butter.

Which one should you choose for making your delicious salad: the organic butter or the grass-fed butter (that is butter obtained from cows that eat grass on pastures)?

The question is not that simple to answer since these 2 specialty butters tend to have a slightly different focus:

 The grass-fed butter (on the left) is more yellowy, a soft yellow, whereas the organic butter (on the right) is more white and plain and it looks harder (Note that both butters are at the same cool room temperature).

Organic dairy is thought to be less contaminated by pollutants and toxins, whereas grass-fed dairy is primarily praised for a better micro-nutrient profile, including much higher levels of CLA, better Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratios, and dramatically higher levels of Vitamin A and E.

So, it is up to you – choose what you prefer for your salad – less pollutants or more nutrients!

  1. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are so widely praised because they not only contribute normal nutrients and benefits of vegetables, but they also contribute nutrients commonly found in animals, beans, and grains as well.

They are commonly known as the “meat” of the vegetable world. This makes mushrooms a well-rounded and nutritive part of any healthy diet and they are commonly found in cuisines all around the world.

They are also found all around the world, since fungi commonly grow in dark, damp places, or on top of a food source that they are decomposing.

When it comes to the nutritional value pf mushrooms, it suffice to say that mushrooms have a wealth of different nutrients and minerals contained in their edible bodies, but the most interesting thing is that mushrooms take on the nutritive composition of the food that they decompose/consume.

Therefore, mushrooms can contain any number of unique and beneficial minerals for humans. The most common minerals found in mushrooms are: selenium, copper, potassium, and phosphorous, with smaller amounts of iron, magnesium, zinc, and manganese.

One of the main reasons why people love to eat mushrooms is that they don’t make you gain weight, yet they provide so many nutrients! In a 100 gram serving of mushrooms, there are only 22 calories, and only 3 of those calories are from fat!

The vitamin content of mushrooms is also rather impressive. Common mushrooms are rich in the B-complex vitamins, including pantothenic acid, niacin, and riboflavin, as well as slightly lower levels of thiamin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin D.

They are the only “vegetable” in the produce aisle that supplies you with vitamin D, so keep that in mind when putting your balanced diet together!

Wild Rice, Quinoa & Mixed Mushroom Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 3 tbsp. organic butter
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cups assorted fresh mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • ¼  tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp. Marsala
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions:         

  1. Prepare the rice and the quinoa according to package directions.
  1. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden. 
  2. Add mushrooms and salt. Sauté 3 to 4 minutes (or until mushrooms become tender). 
  3. Add ground Marsala and sauté 3 minutes ensuring that the mushroom mixture is well coated. 
  4. Stir mushroom mixture and parsley into the already prepared rice and quinoa mixture.

Now, who said salads aren’t filling? This earthy salad packs a hearty punch for a side dish, isn’t that right fellows? 

PLEASE SHARE IT WITH ANYONE YOU KNOW WHO WOULD INDULGE IN A SALAD LIKE THIS ONE