Have you tried wild rice in your salads yet? I’m hooked! Wild rice is chewy, nutty, and hearty. It’s high in protein and B vitamins, and adds a strong backbone to healthy green salads.
This salad is wholesome and filling, with plenty of bold arugula and bursts of flavor in the form of toasted almonds, creamy feta, dried tart cherries and fresh basil.
I shared this recipe several years ago, but I’m afraid the photos weren’t doing it justice. This salad should be a strong contender for your Thanksgiving table. It could pull double-duty as a hearty vegetarian option and serve as wild rice stuffing. It’s also a great healthy weekday option as the holidays approach (leftovers pack well for lunch).
If you aren’t quite sold on the concept yet, I have a little story for you. My boyfriend usually claims that arugula is too “peppery” for his liking, and initially declined the salad. Then, he got a look at it and asked for a bite. Then, I heard, “This salad is really nice.” After a few more bites, “Why is this so good? What’s in it?” Finally, “This is so good. Will you make this for me on my birthday?” Victory!!!
Wild Rice and Arugula Salad Tips
To make this salad in advance: You’ll want to cook the wild rice beforehand, at minimum. You could also whisk together the dressing, and compose the salad (don’t toss it with the dressing until you’re ready to serve). Store any components in the fridge, covered, for up to two days.
You can cook the wild rice in your Instant Pot, if you have one. It turns out great, and it’s nice not to babysit the pot while it’s cooking. See the recipe notes for details (I learned how to cook wild rice this way when I made this wild rice salad, from Megan’s The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook.
Don’t skip the toasted almonds step. Toasting the almonds brings a lot of irresistible savory flavor to this salad! The almonds can burn quickly, so don’t step away from the stove while they’re cooking.
Crumble the feta by hand. I always recommend crumbling your feta (or goat cheese) with a fork before using, rather than buying the pre-crumbled kind. Pre-crumbled is coated in powder to prevent clumping, and it doesn’t taste nearly as good (it’s also more expensive per ounce). The only exception to this rule that I’ve found so far is the crumbled feta by Organic Valley.
You can easily double the recipe for a larger crowd. As written, it yields 4 medium hearty salads, or could be stretched to up to 8 side servings. The arugula wilts down quite a bit (which is nice), but the wilting effect does make the salad look less substantial than it really is.
Please let me know how this salad turns out for you in the comments! I’m always so eager for your feedback.
Looking for more Thanksgiving-worthy salads? Here are a few of my top picks:
- Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Arugula Salad with Sunshine Dressing
- Favorite Green Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pepitas
- Balsamic Butternut, Kale and Cranberry Panzanella
- Autumn Kale Salad with Fennel, Honeycrisp and Goat Cheese
Arugula and Wild Rice Salad
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
This wild rice salad includes arugula, dried cherries, toasted almonds and feta, tossed in a zippy lemon dressing! It’s gluten free, filling and delicious. Recipe yields 4 medium salads, or 8 small side servings.
- 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 5 ounces arugula (about 5 packed cups)
- ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil (from one ⅔ ounce container)
- ½ cup dried tart cherries or cranberries, chopped
- ½ cup crumbled feta or goat cheese (about 2 ounces)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon), to taste
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To cook the wild rice, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the rinsed rice and continue boiling, reducing heat as necessary to prevent overflow, for 40 minutes to 55 minutes, until the rice is pleasantly tender but still offers a light resistance to the bite. Remove from heat, drain the rice and return the rice to pot. Cover and let the rice rest for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and let the rice cool.
- To toast the almonds, warm one teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the almonds and a pinch of salt and cook until they’re turning lightly golden and fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until blended.
- To assemble the salad, transfer the cooled rice to a large bowl. Add the arugula, chopped basil, almonds, sour cherries and feta. Pour in the dressing, toss well, and season to taste with additional salt (I usually add another pinch or two) and pepper. If the salad needs more fresh, bright flavor, add up to 1 tablespoon more lemon juice.
- Set the salad aside for 10 minutes before serving, to give the rice time to soak up some of the dressing. This salad keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for two to three days. You might need to wake up leftovers with an extra drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon (the rice absorbs the dressing over time).
Recipe inspired by Plenty More and my trip to Michigan to learn about tart cherries.
Make it vegan: Skip the feta cheese and substitute maple syrup for the honey.
Make it nut free: Substitute pepitas for the pecans.
Instant pot option: Add the wild rice and 1 ¼ cups water to the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Select the Manual/Pressure Cook option and cook on high pressure for 22 minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure. When the floating valve drops, remove the lid and give the rice a stir. Let the rice cool for at least 10 minutes before tossing with the remaining ingredients.
Change it up: You can change up the whole grains (farro would be my top pick), almonds (pecans or pepitas would be lovely), feta (goat cheese would work just as well), and dried cherries (simply use dried cranberries). If you can’t find fresh basil this time of year, you can safely omit it.
Made for husband’s guy night, paired with steak. It was a huge hit! Very easy to make too….(used instant pot for rice portion- much quicker).
Guy night plus a salad, I love it! Thanks for the review.
I love this salad, it is so fresh and delicious. I have been using many of your recipes and they are all great. They are easy to follow, and I appreciate the tips you offer along the way and the pictures with the instructions. I purchased your book, Love Real Food, and have also used many of these recipes. The guacamole with pepitas has been a favorite with my family. Thanks!
Thanks for purchasing my book, Susan! I’m glad you have been loving the recipes.
I loved this! The dressing was delicious, and the wild rice has so much flavor on its own. I chose to make this with what I had on hand, so a few modifications:
Spinach instead of arugula, topped with arugula micro greens for some spiciness, I didn’t have goat cheese, so I used parmesan reggiano and aged cheddar and added avocado to get the creaminess goat cheese would have imparted, and instead of fresh basil I used a mix of herbs and wild greens from the yard, then sprinkled some dried basil into the dressing.
You’re right – it holds up well in the fridge, and it was wonderful as leftovers the next day. I can’t wait to make it with the ingredients in the recipe!
Thanks for sharing your variation, Kate! Thanks for your review.
I made it with goat cheese and cranberries! Yum! Thanks for the great recipe.
I made this exactly as directed and it was fantastic. Will definitely make again.
Great to hear, Joy! I appreciate your review.
I loved this! Making it for a second time today.
Thank you for your review, Rachel!
This salad was really really good. So good that I plan to make it for company I’m having this week. Thank you!
How did it turn out, Marla?
The company LOVED it! They are a tough crowd, very picky but I know they loved it because they all helped themselves to Seconds! The wild rice adds so much to the salad. It sounds funny but I am terrible at cooking rice, it never comes out right except I can say that I have conquered the wild rice. It has come out great each time I make it. Thanks for all the tips!
This is my very favorite salad. I have taken it to many dinner parties and it is a huge hit. I make it just as the recipe says, except that I don’t add feta, as I am vegan. It is still amazing and I don’t think it is lacking anything by the omission.
Thank you SO much for this!
Great way to adjust to make this vegan, Carla! Thank you for your review.
Love Love Love this recipe. I reconstituted dried cranberries in a little hot water. Served with feta. Two of us gobbled down the whole thing for dinner. Will add this one to the back of my Love Real Food cookbook.
We love this salad!! I did change one thing. We have Limoncello Basil in the garden, so I used that instead of regular basil.
Great recipe! What an array of different flavors! Was going to skip basil, but thankfully decided not to. Thank you!!
I made this tonight as a contender for Thanksgiving when I will be hosting 20 plus family members. KATE. (And Cookie). It is so amazing. We will not only having this as a fresh and healthy addition to Thanksgiving but also in regular rotation. Thank you! Bravo! Can you tell we liked it?
It’s a great salad for the holidays! Thanks for sharing, Marla.
I am not one to write reviews, in fact this is my very first one, but your blog deserves it so much! I am so glad I found you: when our family decided to switch to a 95% vegetarian/vegan diet a few months ago I felt so lost as my easy go-to recipes mostly involved animal proteins. Your blog has been a savior and my only reference for the past months! I agree 100% with your approach to healthy whole food eating and your recipes are masterpieces! They always work out, I must have tried over 10 by now and I loved each and everyone! In fact, following you has boosted my passion for cooking and both my family and my friends have been equally excited when tasting these wonderful recipes! This salad is simply perfect and I had to share the link to the recipe with so many friends!! Thanks a lot Kate for your passionate work, it has made our transition to vegetarianism a pleasure!
Thank you so much, Francesca! I appreciate it.
This is my go-to salad. I make it for potluck, for dinner with husband, dinner parties, for everything, including Thanksgiving. I am a huge fan of wild rice, but have substituted black rice and a rice blend (Royal Blend). I combine wild rice with black rice to equal 1cup, then cook these two together. Turns out just fine.
The salad dressing is also my go-to for salads, poultry, salmon. I add turmeric for extra color, and have combined both rustic and poupon mustard—turns out just fine. I always have a cruet of this in the kitchen. If I don’t have fresh lemons, I use cider vinegar or white balsamic vinegar.
If I don’t have slivered almonds, I use unsalted roasted sunflower kernels. And I use chopped dried cranberries.
I don’t use social media, but this salad is the best of its kind so I had to rate it highest marks for healthful, delicious, creative use of everyday ingredients. p.s., I also have used instant pot for rice and it turns out ok, but not as well as on cooktop. For company, I use cooktop.
I love to hear that, Betsy! Thanks for sharing your approach.
The zippy lemon dressing is absolutely delicious!! I emulsified it in a blender and it came out creamy and luscious. I used coarse ground dijon mustard and honey. I would like to try maple syrup next time. The garlic really makes the flavor irresistible! I’ve made this salad (without the rice) and dressing twice in the last month and have gotten so many compliments from others. It’s now my go-to salad and dressing recipe for potlucks. I just love it!!
Thank you for sharing, Katie! I appreciate your review.
Oh, my! Delicious! I used a combo of fresh spinach and arugula, as arugula is a lil’ bit too peppery for the Male members of the household, Ha! But, it turned out very well! No leftovers! Yay! Definately a Keeper (:
Anyone make this with Cauliflower Rice and now honey? For low carb people?
Love this recipe omg. Such a unique array of textures and flavors. We didn’t have dried fruit so we used pomegranate seeds and that was excellent. This was our first time making it and we’ve added it to our faves. I’m making it for a fancy dinner tomorrow with a big client and his wife. Really enjoyed this.
I made this salad last night and it was SO GOOD. Probably one of the best salads i’ve ever had. I’m a huge fan of argula. The salad dressing is so delicious. I followed the recipe exactly. And this is the first salad i’ve made that was actually still good the next day!
We loved this one!
I’m still coming back to this recipe from time to time. Such a great combination!
I love to hear that, Jenna! Thank you for sharing.
Absolutely loved this salad thank you! We made it with pomegranate seeds and goat cheese. So many different textures and flavours – it was fantastic. Will definitely make again soon.
This recipe was delicious! It was an awesome side dish! Threw in some carrots that I sautéed in brown sugar and Marsala wine for more veggies, will definitely make this again! Thank you for the recipe!
Very good, but rather expensive to buy everything in it.
Questions:I was able to find fresh cherries which are much less expensive than the dried, thought perhaps I would pit and freeze them to use in a month for this recipe for my son’s rehearsal dinner. If I do that shall I just add less liquid to the rice? In addition, can this be made a day ahead would it get too mushy.?
Hi Christine! Fresh cherries could be interesting. I would still chop them and make sure they are defrosted prior to adding to the salad. You will want to still cook the rice the same since you don’t add the cherries until step 4. Arugula doesn’t always hold up the best once mixed, so I would suggest waiting to assemble the parts until you are ready to serve. They should keep well separated in the refrigerator.
This salad was fantastic. Tasted so light and summery, and the combination of flavors was perfect. I happened to have dried cherries sitting in the back of my pantry for months because I don’t like them on their own that much, but in this they were perfect! Great lunch option.
Made this on a hot spring evening – perfection! My husband is allergic to almonds so I used walnuts and I had good parmesan so I roughly chopped that instead of goat cheese.
I was hesitant to make this, because…rice? with salad? BUT, all the positive reviews convinced me to try it, and I’m so glad I did! Even my carnivorous man liked it. I used goat cheese for mine and shredded gruyere for his. Pepitas in place of almonds, and dried cranberries in place of cherries. Outstanding! I’m looking forward to having it again today for lunch.
I’m so glad you tried it too, Jenni! I appreciate your review.
Love, love, love this salad!!!!
I made this recipe for my wife for Mom’s day and…she loved it. It is a different plate, very attractive and full of taste. We decided that this rice salad will be our family dish for X-mas, but we always make it eventually for any special occasion. Thanks for sharing this awesome and delicious recipe.
Is it normal to crave a salad? Asking for a friend it’s sooo wonderful. Love this recipe.
Thank you, Kay!
This salad is excellent! It was thanksgiving dinner during this strange year. Arugula harvested from my covered bed in MN November 24! Yum we have made it again b
Very tasty salad! I’m always looking for wild rice salad recipes, and love the combination of flavors with yours. I used craisins and feta, cause that’s what I had on hand, but will definitely try it again with dried cherries. I’m curious what drives the fat count so high, I may want to reduce the olive oil, nuts and cheese slightly just to bring that down, sadly.
Thank you, Aly! I’m excited you enjoyed it. I appreciate your review.
I expected this to be good given the combination of ingredients but it turned out to be fantastic – so delicious. I left out the basil but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It turned out perfectly. I could see adding an apple next time around to bulk it up a bit or maybe using spiced pecans instead of the almonds. Either way, thank you for the perfect salad recipe.
I’ve made this recipe 3-4 times and think each time “why don’t I make this more often?” It’s seriously that good! The leftovers store well in the fridge for up to a day. Can’t vouch for anything longer because they somehow disappear.
This was very good. I added roasted diced sweet potato and Brussels sprouts. Didn’t have fresh basil so omitted that, but had added fresh thyme to the vegetables when I roasted them. The family loved it. Thank you for the recipe. Will be making this again many times.
This salad is was a great addition to our first grilling day of the year. I served the feta on the side because we have a dairy-free friend who was eating it. Every time I make a salad from Cookie and Kate I end up sharing the recipe with everyone because these salads are so delicious.
Wonderful, Anneka! Thank you for your review.
Loved this salad!
That’s great! Thank you for your review, Karen.
This is hands down my favorite salad. I have to bring something to a retirement party next week and this will be it! I used maple syrup instead of honey and pecans instead of almonds.
Heather C Moore
LOVED IT!! The only change to this was that I zested the lemon and added to the dressing.
That sounds lemony, I love it! Thank you for sharing, Heather.
This is a darn good salad. I followed the recipe pretty much as written. Used the Instant Pot for the wild rice (perfectly cooked) and substituted cranberries for the cherries (the price of dried cherries!…but I do think cherries would be a better choice). Served with a trout filet that I broiled, which was a good call. Will definitely make again.
I’m glad you loved it, Timothy! Thank you for your review.
OMG……This salad is AMAZING! I could’ve eaten 5 bowls of it. Only thing we did different was used half Dijon and half jalapeño mustard for the dressing. Not sure how much of a difference that makes. It did not make it spicy, just a little different flavor. We also added about 5 whole pistachios to each bowl of salad. My husband added dried beets to his. SO GOOD!
I’m excited you enjoyed it!
When I think I have tried all your marvellous salads, I find a new one that’s even better than the previous… seriously Kate, you are our Salad Queen! You have the most amazing taste to combine the ingredients and make them sing together. Thank you!!!
Hooray! I’m glad you enjoyed this salad too, Mel. Thank you for your review.
Incredibly good!! I’m making this again after making it the first time a few weeks ago.
I’m glad you love it, Shannon! Thank you for your review.
OMG this is the most incredible, delicious salad. I could eat it every day.
This is my favorite salad! I often make the dressing and keep it in a jar in the refrigerator. I use a variety of different greens, sometimes Farro instead of rice and goat cheese instead of Feta. I also love the Kale and quinoa salad from your cookbook!
I’m glad you are enjoying my blog and cookbook, Vickie! Thank you for your review.
This is totally fantastic! You were right that it keeps beautifully. We had leftovers with a whole cubed avocado that needed to be used. That was a great addition!
Hi. Can forbidden rice be used instead of wild rice? I bought some and have yet to be courageous enough to use it:-).
Hi Felicia, You can try it. Although, I would watch cooking time for the rice as it may vary.
Very tasty, refreshing and addictive!
Omitted the basil that I don’t like so much and paired it with oven-baked fish. Yummy
Thank you for sharing, Laura!
We’ve returned to this recipe time and time again. It gets rave reviews from guests and holds up well for leftovers. We follow the recipe as is for ourselves but recently made a vegan version for a friend using dairy-free feta crumbles. It was just as good and no one could tell it was a vegan feta substitute.
I love wild rice so I made this salad for Thanksgiving with a large crowd. A ton of people asked for the recipe afterward and are passing it on to their friends. Success!
Hooray! That’s great to hear, Robin.
I’ve made this salad for two Christmas Eve dinners in a row. Last year cranberries (couldn’t get the cherries) and almonds, this year cherries and toasted pecans. Both were delicious, made a lovely presentation at the table and bonus, most of the recipe can be made ahead. Wonderful salad!
Enjoyed this last night for dinner. All the flavors worked so well together, loved the toasted almonds. I didn’t have basil but will put that in next time as this will be a repeat for sure. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Doreen!
Delicious! There is an amazing synergy with the varied flavors and the chew of the rice. I’ve made it twice this week and am in process of making a third batch
That’s great! I’m glad you have made it three times already.
If I want to double the recipe & am cooking the wild rice in my insopot, do I double the water? I love this recipe & have made it many times, but have never doubled it!
Hi! I believe so, but I don’t use my Instant pot all the time so I’m not sure. Sorry!
My 10-year-old son loves raw vegetables and salads, and he said this recipe is his favorite thing to eat in the whole world. We don’t even use the dried fruit or feta cheese, and it’s still absolutely fantastic. Thank you for all your delicious and healthy recipes!
I love that he enjoys veggies and salads! That’s great. I appreciate you taking the time to review, J.
This was so good! I didn’t have basil on hand, but used parsley and scallions I had and it was delicious! I paired it with salmon. Delicious! Thank you!
You’re welcome, Naomi! I appreciate your review.
Amazing recipe! Just wow… what an incredible blend of flavors. Served alongside baked cod. Used spinach but otherwise kept the recipe as is. Both my son and I loved it, and my dog liked a few of the dried cranberries! So yummy. It will be gone by morning. For those wondering whether or not to keep the basil, I would make a special trip to the store for it every time. Or grow my own!
I’m excited this was a hit for everyone, Rame! I appreciate your review.
I don’t know if I already commented, but it can’t hurt to say it twice. I love this recipe! I’ve made it for dinner guest twice and I’m bringing to someone’s house for dinner tonight at their request. I’ve switched the arugula for baby spinach, and that works too. I love wild rice, and the dressing is great and versatile. Thank you for a delicious recipe
You’re welcome, Alene! I appreciate your review.
Made this last night and it was amazing!!! I used cranberries because that’s what I had. Definitely making this again!!
I loved this salad. I doubled the dressing so I could marinate chicken and grill it. I eliminated the cheese since we don’t like cheese but I don’t think the recipe even needed it. I will definitely make it again.
That’s great to hear, Diane. I appreciate you taking the time to review.
Huge hit in my house! Made it exactly as written. This is a seriously delicious salad — I made it tonight and my partner has already requested it weekly. Thank you for yet another amazing recipe :)
You’re welcome, Elizabeth! I appreciate your review.