Growing up in Brasil in an Italian and Portuguese family, I never celebrated Thankgiving until migrating to the United States 19 years ago. But since then, it has become one of my favorite holidays. Year after year we have been building our own traditions among family and friends, celebrating gratitude and the bounty of the fall season with nourishing, warming and grounding foods. This is a recipe I came across a few years ago, changed it up a bit to suit our palates and lifestyle and bring to our table often, not exclusive of the holiday meal. It can be used as a side, as a stuffing for vegetables or incorporated into a warm salad.
WILD RICE WITH ROASTED GRAPES & WALNUTS
Warm a large heavy-bottomed pan (I love my enameled cast iron from Le Creuset!) and add oil of choice over medium heat. Add shallots and celery and cook until soft, stirring frequently for about 8 minutes. Add wild rice, stock, thyme, salt, pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Add brown rice, cover, and simmer until rice is tender but firm, adding a little more liquid (water or broth) if dry, about 40 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Place grapes on rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. Drizzle with oil; toss. Roast grapes until beginning to wrinkle, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the balsamic vinegar.
Add grapes (and its juices), walnuts, and orange peel to hot rice and toss well. Adjust seasoning and serve. Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit magazine.)
* If using store-bought, make sure to read the list of ingredients and opt for low-sodium options. A good and sustainable idea is to customize your stock with whatever vegetables you usually use in your kitchen and have plenty of scraps at hand. I save outer layers of onions, celery tops, parsley and mushroom stems, pieces of carrots, fennel bulb, herbs, etc. in a reusable silicone freezer-safe bag. When I have enough, I simmer them with plenty of water until reduced in volume and the flavors have concentrated.
NOTE: If making this for a Thanksgiving meal, consider trying other of my favorite recipes that go wonderfully with this one:
Creamy Mushroom Soup
Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
Homemade Cranberry Sauce (two recipes)
Vegetarian Mushroom Wellington
Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage & Hazelnuts
Maple-Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pecans
Green Bean Almondine
Whole Grain Corn Bread
Harvest Kale Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Cranberries & Pecans
and for dessert:
Cranberry Crumble Pie
Vegan Chocolate Mousse