This wild rice salad strewn with roasted sweet potatoes, leafy greens, crunchy apple, and crumbly aged cheddar is pretty much everything I want in a salad. It’s a big, gorgeous jumble of contrasting flavors, textures, and colors—every bite as interesting as the next. It can be fully assembled in advance and served warm or at room temperature. It's hearty and satisfying enough to call dinner, yet versatile enough to pair with practically any protein.
When creating the recipe, I had a salad bowl from a certain chain I love in mind (I've eaten it more times than I can count!). I changed up the ingredients and ratios to suit my taste—for example, I ditched the chicken, opted for Kerrygold's Aged Cheddar instead of goat cheese, and went heavy on the wild rice, lighter on the greens.
Of course, feel free to customize this salad based on your own taste, or what you have in your fridge and pantry. A few ideas to get you started: Swap roasted butternut or delicata squash for the sweet potatoes. Use other types of rice or grains in place of the wild rice. Try a spicy or creamy vinaigrette instead of the balsamic. Reach for spinach or leafy herbs like parsley or cilantro instead of (or in combo with) the arugula. No matter what you do, with a salad template this good, you really can’t go wrong.
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe is shared in partnership with Kerrygold. —The Editors
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 45 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6 (as a side)
- For the salad:
wild rice or wild rice blend
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds
sweet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
sliced almonds (or substitute chopped pecans or walnuts)
dried cranberries or cherries
large tart apple (such as Honeycrisp), cored and cubed
(packed) baby arugula
aged cheddar (such as Kerrygold Aged Cheddar), thinly shaved or crumbled
- For the balsamic vinaigrette:
lemon's finely grated zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
- Heat oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment or a silicone mat.
- Cook wild rice according to the package directions. (Note: Add a few big pinches of salt to season to the water even if the package doesn’t call for it.)
- To make the vinaigrette: Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl. Adjust acidity and seasoning, to taste.
- While the rice is cooking, toss cubed sweet potatoes in olive oil, maple syrup, and Aleppo pepper in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and distribute in an even layer on the sheet pan. (Don’t rinse the bowl; use it for tossing the nuts in Step 5.) Roast for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until mostly tender and lightly browned.
- Toss the almonds in the same bowl, coating them in any remaining olive oil and maple syrup in the bowl. Add them to the sheet pan (directly on the hot pan or on top of the sweet potatoes) and roast for about 8 minutes longer, or until the almonds are nicely toasted and the sweet potatoes are fully tender. Immediately toss both the sweet potatoes and almonds in 2 tablespoons vinaigrette, then season to taste with another pinch or two of salt.
- Toss cubed apple and cranberries in 2 tablespoons vinaigrette (this will prevent browning of the apple and soften the cranberries). Set aside.
- When wild rice is done, immediately toss in 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.
- Let the rice cool a bit, then add the sweet potatoes, almonds, apple, cranberries, arugula, and cheese—tossing well and adding a bit more vinaigrette, as needed (you may not need the full amount). Serve and enjoy.