This stunning salad came to be by accident. In a state of impending hanger, I threw together the leftovers scavenged from my fridge: fresh arugula, cooked wild rice, baked sweet potato fries (why not?), and ginger dressing.
I topped it with the leftover toasted nuts and seeds sitting in a bowl by the sink, and somehow summoned the energy to add some crumbled feta.
That salad really hit the spot, so I jotted down some notes about it and here we are.
Why This Salad Works
Spicy arugula offers a nutritious, green base. Fresh ginger in the salad dressing balances the sweetness of the caramelized, roasted sweet potatoes. I’ve been obsessed with wild rice in salads lately, since it offers such a great, chewy-tender texture and nutty flavor.
Crumbled feta, green onion and dried cranberries round it out to create a bold, beautiful fall and winter salad. This is a meal-in-a-bowl situation.
This is a seriously large salad that makes great leftovers. Be sure to store the salad and dressing separately if you intend to have leftovers that last for several days. You can toss it all together at once, but the arugula wilts fairly quickly—not a bad effect if you’re eating it all within a day or so.
You could also easily halve this recipe, if you don’t want to make an enormous amount at once. Either way, you’ll end up with some leftover dressing that you can use to improvise your own salads. Let me know how those turn out!
If you have an Instant Pot, (affiliate link) check out the recipe notes for a foolproof and faster way to cook the wild rice.
Change It Up
This recipe is versatile. Here are a few ways to change it to suit your needs:
- For extra protein, add cooked chickpeas.
- Butternut squash would work well in place of the sweet potato. Or, you could save time and simplify the recipe by swapping raw diced apples for the sweet potato.
- Any cooked whole grain (about 3 cups) will work in place of the wild rice; farro or wheat berries would be really nice.
- Sub your favorite green for the arugula (massaged chopped kale or baby kale, spinach, spring greens, etc.).
Please let me know how this salad turns out for you in the comments! It’s not the quickest salad to make, but it keeps so well that it’s definitely worth the effort.
Craving more hearty salads that keep well? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Hearty Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Salad
- Arugula and Wild Rice Salad with Zippy Lemon Dressing
- Southwestern Kale Power Salad with Sweet Potato, Quinoa & Avocado Sauce
- Greek Lentil Salad
Thank you so much to everyone who filled out our 2019 reader survey. With over 5,000 responses (holy moly!), I’m still reading through and taking notes on your answers.
Thank you for your kind encouragement and suggestions. I’ve already implemented a few of the most frequent requests. You’ll now find a “jump to recipe” button at the top of every recipe post, in case you’re in a hurry or working on your grocery list.
I’m also investigating better search solutions, and I’ve fixed an issue with the mobile version of the menu so you now have easier access to all of the recipe filters.
I’m carefully considering your responses. Since I’m both the website developer and recipe developer, working on one side takes time from the other. I love stretching my brain in both directions, though, and keeping the Cookie and Kate team small. I’d rather grow slowly than burn out, because this is my absolute dream job.
These things take time. I also need time to sleep, and Cookie wants to go on more walks. Maybe I’ll make another cookbook. I’m definitely going on more vacations and hope you do, too.
Cheers to many more fresh and wholesome recipes this year. Thank you for being here.
Hearty Sweet Potato, Arugula & Wild Rice Salad with Ginger Dressing
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 6 salads 1x
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop and roasted
- Cuisine: American
This delicious salad recipe features roasted sweet potato, wild rice and arugula. It’s fresh, filling and nutritious! Enjoy this salad all week long. This recipe yields a lot of salad (6 generous servings) and is easily halved.
- 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- 1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes (2 medium or 3 small), peeled and sliced into 1” cubes
- 1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup raw pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds, chopped pecans or almonds, or any combination thereof
- 5 ounces arugula (about 5 packed cups)
- ½ cup crumbled feta or goat cheese (about 2 ounces)
- ½ cup thinly sliced green onion
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, to taste
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- About 20 twists of freshly ground black pepper
- To cook the wild rice: Bring a large pot of water to boil (or see Instant Pot option provided in notes). 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, stir in ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, to roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Place the cubed sweet potato on the pan, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Toss until the sweet potatoes are lightly and evenly coated in oil. Arrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing halfway, until they are caramelized on the edges and tender when pierced through with a fork. Leave the oven on and let the sweet potatoes cool for a few minutes.
- To make the dressing, simply combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- Combine the arugula, wild rice and roasted sweet potatoes (keep the parchment paper) in a large serving bowl or platter.
- Spread the seeds and/or chopped nuts on your parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant (be sure to set a timer; we’re toasting at high heat here).
- Spread the toasted seeds/nuts over the salad. Top with the crumbled feta, green onion and dried cranberries.
- If you’re serving the salad immediately, go ahead and drizzle most of the dressing on top (you probably won’t use it all). Gently toss to combine, and let the salad rest for a few minutes so the rice has time to absorb some of the dressing. Serve.
- If you’re planning to have leftovers, divide the salad into portions and store the dressing separately. The salad and dressing will keep well, each covered in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days. Leftover dressing is great to keep on hand for future salads!
Make it dairy free/vegan: Omit the feta. For a vegan salad, be sure to use maple syrup instead of honey.
Make it nut free: Use pepitas and/or sunflower seeds in place of the nuts.
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.