We had a large Christmas / Holiday gathering at our house, roasted turkey with all the fixings was on the menu as was a new treat for those who don’t eat meat. We are such carnivores in our house that I often forget that others don’t appreciate flesh the way we do. Consequently as the second turkey was baking (yes, I did two of them; roasting one the day before) and all the veggies were being prepared I decided that I needed to make a more dedicated vegetarian dish for those who might otherwise feel left out. Luckily for me I have a monster sized (50 lb) bag of wild rice hidden away that we bought when we were frequenting the northern part of Manitoba that I dip into for special occasions such as this.
I had initially wanted to make a squash dish and I picked up about 4 lbs of cubed squash earlier in the week but opened it up to find it had gone bad in just a few days. This would have made a great pairing with the wild rice and I love squash but that was now out of the question. Though squash would have bulked up this dish and could easily be added I have to say that adding other veggies like large chunks of roasted onions and whole roasted garlic made it super yummy.
I love the layers of garlic in this dish from roasted and raw garlic and even though I’m not the biggest fan of cooked spinach it worked well as did the roasted chickpeas. I know this dish seems like a lot of work with the list of ingredients but if you have the oven going anyway slipping another pan on the bottom rack with some veggies on it for this is not a big deal and well worth the time.
Roasted Veggie Rice Salad
- 1 cup raw wild rice
- 1 jar slowly roasted tomatoes (recipe found here or use sun dried tomatoes — though admittedly not as good)
- 2-3 onions
- 2 garlic bulbs (I actually used 3)
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 large bag of spinach
- olive oil to coat the veggies while roasting
- cayenne pepper to season the chickpeas
- butter to lightly cook the spinach
- Salt and pepper to season
Set the rice in a pot of water to cook (cook according to instructions) lots of water and for about 35- 45 minutes on medium until the rice starts to split. You can cook for a longer or shorter amount of time depending on your preference for a stiffer or softer rice.
While the rice is cooking quarter the onions and cut off the top of the garlic bulbs, coat with olive oil and set in the oven (I baked at 350 F on the bottom rack) make sure to check often and turn the onions as they become nicely caramelized roasting the garlic until they start to push out of the top. When you cut the tops off the garlic bulbs you’ll end up with the tips of the garlic that would normally get thrown away, don’t toss these, mince them and then throw them in raw with the wild rice.
Place the drained and rinsed chickpeas on a separate pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt and lightly sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Also place these on the low rack of the oven and bake for about 10 – 15 minutes, checking and rolling them around frequently until they have a nice crisp outside… taste them as you go along…. once you like the consistency take them out. Mine were pretty crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
Pan fry the spinach with butter until it’s wilted.
Toss the rice with the minced garlic; a jar of roughly chopped roasted tomatoes, roasted onions, the roasted garlic (mashed and broken up slightly), the cooked spinach and lastly the roasted chickpeas. Salt and pepper to taste and serve warm or at room temperature. I made this early in the afternoon and had to warm it up a little before serving.
You do have to love garlic for this dish to be a hit and I’ve come to understand it is doubtful that there is a person alive that doesn’t love garlic. I know it seems as though there is a lot of it in this dish but the roasted garlic, which really is the bulk of it has such a nice sweet flavour without the burn.
This was an improvised dish that I’m going to make soon again for sure…. it’s just that good…. and super healthy…. and there was barely a spoonful left over – seems it was a hit with the vegetarians and the carnivores.