You Can Eat THAT Raw? Or, Wild Rice Salad

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Express post!

I’m just home from work and about to head out again, but I wanted to check in a) because I love you all, and b) to share a recipe from the other evening.

As you can imagine, I tend to get a lot of emails along the lines of, “Can I eat __________ raw?” or “Is ________ a raw food?” My personal favorite was an email wherein someone asked me if stovetop oats were raw. “You mean the ones you boil for several minutes?” I wanted to reply.

But I understand these questions, at least in theory, because some of the foods you wouldn’t expect to be able to eat raw do in fact make for lovely raw meals. Take wild rice, for instance. This delicious “grain” isn’t a grain at all, but rather an aqueous grass that’s often food to ducks and pond creatures. We can cook it, naturally, and I’m sure we all have: who among us hasn’t made a wild rice pilaf at some point? But it’s also very easy to soak wild rice, and the even better news is that you needn’t bother to cover and sprout it before eating: you can soak it for three days, changing water at least twice daily, and then dig in right away. Easy peasy.

This week, with little time on my hands, I didn’t feel like cooking up a batch of brown rice. As usual, raw foods came to the rescue. I threw together a summery wild rice salad that hit the spot and demanded no steamy stovetop vigil, and would have – if I’d had the foresight to make a double batch – yielded great leftovers, too. I’m about to give you a recipe for one portion, but do go ahead and double it. You won’t be sorry!

Wild Rice Salad Salad with Summer Vegetables (serves 1)

1/3 cup wild rice, raw
1 large plum tomato, chopped
1/3 cup corn, raw
1/3 cup green peas, blanched if you like (I like)
2 tbsp chopped basil
2 tbsp Tomato Basil Vinaigrette, courtesy of Epicurious
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Place wild rice in a bowl and submerge it with at least 1-2 cups filtered water. Soak for 2-3 days, changing the water twice daily. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s still quite chewy, but no more chewy than cooked wheatberries or spelt. Give yourself 3 days to be safe, but 2 was all I needed here.

2) Rinse wild rice in fresh water, let it dry a little (or pat it with a paper towel) and mix it with all remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, and serve!

You’ll notice that I didn’t make up a vinaigrette for this recipe, and you’ll be right. Usually I love making up my own dressing recipes, but I also love to be inspired by cookbooks and the web. This was one of those times. I daresay I could do as well as the Epicurious recipe (and maybe I’ll try), but it’s a solid one to make at home!

See? A fresh, summery raw meal that only requires a little advance planning: aside from soak time, this one is a cinch:

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And did you know that wild rice has five grams of protein per 1/6 cup serving? For those of you counting, that’s ten grams for 1/3 cup.

Soaked wild rice isn’t quite as soft as we’re used to from pilafs, but I actually love the texture and chew. And it goes without saying that it works really nicely with fall and winter flavors. I just may have a recipe in store for the holiday issue of VegNews! Hope you guys try this one out and like it. I’m sure there is plenty of variety to add to the dish, and don’t hesitate to mix it up.

On that note, I hate to blog and dash, but I’m outtie. See you later this weekend!


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Categories: Main Dishes
Ingredients: Rice
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Raw

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  1. I have a question. After I sprout the brown rice, if I don’t want to cook it and I just want to eat it as is, do you know if it will be safe to eat the freshly sprouted brown rice cold and unheated in any way? I’m trying to find solid info on this but haven’t yet. Thanks!

  2. Yummy recipe. But everyone must learn that packaged dry “WILD RICE” is NOT “raw”, it’s cooked as ever. In fact, the brown color comes from a burning process called “parching”, done do de-husk it and give it that nutty flavor and luxurious brown color. The darker the brown, the more parched the rice is, and ironically the more expensive it is. I come from Minnesota wild rice country, and know that the only true “raw” wild rice comes from just-picked, green, dried in the sun, and the husks removed by dancing on them and winnowing away the husk by wind, a traditional native American method. This green unparched rice is considered sacred and is NEVER sold to the public. I”ve had some as a gift from a Lakota tribal chief, and it is unbelievably fragrant and delicious when I soaked and ate it. As soon as the harvested seed is dried, it is dead and can NEVER be sprouted, even when it’s green and definitely not parched. To be a live seed, it falls back into the water where it sprouts from the bottom of the lake. I’d say the most nutrients are left when wild rice is soaked overnight, rinsed once, then steamed only until it pops open. Soaking and rinsing for days just leaches more nutrients out every time you change the bath water, and invites a lot of bacteria that eat up even more nutrients. It does not serve anyone to be “raw” like its some deity. To get the most nutrients, flavor, and texture out of parched wild rice, look at it for what it is and enjoy it soaked then lightly steamed, then add the “raw” ingredients.

    • Many congrats, you are the 1st person who knows about fresh undried wild rice. I had the extreme fortune of having some at Henri’s restaurant in Chicago with coq’et vin many decades ago. It was the best meal I ever had at a restaurant, by far, & will never forget it.
      Thanks muchly for your great knowledge of a most wonderful food!

  3. Wow, I’d never thought about a raw preparation of wild rice, and now it seems like a wonderful idea! Your salad looks so fresh and summery, I can’t wait to try it!

  4. Wild rice is so delicious – this is a new spin on it for me! I’ve been experimenting with sprouted grains more and more, and I love the texture and taste they provide in a meal.

  5. Unfortunately, after the “rice” is harvested, it is air dried for a couple of days. At that point, it has to be “parched”. It is a process that involves high heat. Traditionally, this is done in a big iron pan over coals. Commercially, I am not sure how it is done.

    Before parching, the rice is a very light tan. The parching is necessary to remove the chaff from the grain. I am not sure it is edible, or that you can even find wild rice that hasn’t gone through the heating process.

    I love wild rice and live in a state where it is wild harvested. I was truly excited to make soaked rice, and have but saddened when I found out that it isn’t really “raw”.

  6. I haven’t tried the soaked wild rice yet. Like Averie, I saw it in Ani’s cookbook. The only grain I’ve eaten raw are oats. I followed one of Ani’s recipes for soaked raw oat groats and they’re delicious…I eat them all the time for breakfast.

    You know though….I do often think “Can I eat this raw??” The last time I did that, it was butternut squash, which I’d never seen anyone eat raw. Again, I found a recipe that used it raw. Sometimes I get a medium sized vegetable that I just don’t feel like turning the whole oven on to cook it and wonder if there’s a way I could just prepare it raw. Maybe you could come up with a list of vegetables that most people don’t think you can eat raw, but actually you can!!

    I love reading your blog 🙂

  7. I’ve seen soaked wild rice in Ani’s newest book and also on her blog. I have wondered, just talking out loud here, if it’s safe to let something soak in water for a few days on the countertop. I realize that by and large, it is, but there’s a part of me that’s hesitant to do it just b/c of bacteria that could take hold.

    Like when making kombucha or kefir and I am purposefully trying to get bacteria to take hold, after 2-3 days, they have definitely begun to go to work and it’s visible to the eye.

    Anyway who knows if that’s ever a significant issue, just was wondering about it always when I see long soaking times. But that has nothing to do with the fact that your food looks gorgeous! It’s so colorful, so beautiful, makes me wanna see what’s in that VegNews issue.



  8. “You mean the ones you boil for several minutes?”
    I laughed out loud at that one! Funny girl. 😀 Oy, the questions we get asked sometimes.

    LOVE this recipe! Thank you. This would be fab with some heirloom tomatoes, snap peas + fresh basil from my garden. Oooooooh yeah.

    I made a holiday recipe last Thanksgiving you might enjoy, using soaked rice: Cranberry Cashew Rice Pilaf

  9. wow, that sounds delicious. i have grown up eating wild rice. i used to open it, then bake it for like an hour, but now i’ve cut down to simmering for 1/2 hr then just letting it sit with the lid on for another 1/2 hours….i have never tried just soaking it!!! i can’t wait to try this. my grandpa owns Canoe or Oh Canada organic wild rice…i may be biased but its good stuff and soooo good for you so if you would like to sample this product let me know 🙂

    have a great night!

  10. Love this I need to try this, I have been really into raw food lately got an excalibur dehydrator…I only have ani phyo’s new book, and am getting raw food real world by sarma…Are there any other great fundamental informative raw cookbooks you reccommend?

  11. It never ceases to amaze me how there are so many foods you can eat “raw”- love the idea of this dish. Definitely going into my “need-to-try” pile! Hope you have a great weekend!

  12. I had no idea you could eat that stuff raw! Two questions:

    1. What is it called at the store? Just “wild rice”?

    2. Do you feel that it takes you a long time to digest, and do you actually digest it all or does it come out in your poo like some seeds do? (Sorry if that is too personal of a question!).

    I have never bought it alone – just, as you say, mixed in as part of a pre-packaged rice pilaf or something…


  13. What a great idea. I love wild rice but the thought of making it has not even crossed my mind in recent years precisely because I always imagine it in the pilaf category. But I love chewy grains (or “grains,” as the case may be) and this sounds like a simple and delicious way to do it.

  14. Interesting. I always thought you had to sprout grains in order to eat them raw. I like the soaking idea. I would actually eat that, because I hate mushy grains and have always liked them kind of chewy and hard, anyway.

  15. Ok, here’s some of those lovely “should be obvious” questions :). When soaking the rice for 2-3 days, do I leave it on the counter, or does it need refrigeration? Do I cover it snuggly (like in a jar), drape it with a tea towel, or just in a regular bowl?

    Also, in much of the materials I read about soaking/sprouting, they always put lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in the soaking water. Why is that, and should I do that for this recipe?


  16. I seriously love reading your blog. Thanks for all the awesome raw recipes that you post everyday! You make sprouting grains and nuts and seeds sound SO EASY. i still haven’t sprouted quinoea though. I don’t have a sprouting jar. Can I just soak it for a coupla hours and wait for the tails to come out? 🙂 I’m totally going to try the soaked wild rice! 🙂 Thanks Gena!!

    • Cass,

      I would wait for tails–you can check out my sprouting quinoa post (spring quinoa salad). Soaking alone might be ok, but it might be tough to digest. Glad you like my blog!


  17. I am so scared that soaked wild rice will scratch my guts out! But I have been feeling stronger digestively so maybe I will give it a try. Thanks for reminding me about it.

    • oh yes, a lot of raw vegan nutrition advocates not eating grains because apparently the fibre in the grains are like glass shards scratching our intestines and are not the kind of fibre that we need… what do you make of that, Gena? The argument is that unlike birds, we do not have small pockets in our throats to remove the fibre before we eat them, and that grains in their natural state are hard to eat and tasteless. They must be cooked/sprouted/mixed with seasonings in order to be palatable… But I love my grains anyway!!!!

      • Cass,

        Do you mean we shouldn’t eat raw grains as is? I agree with that–too indigestible.

        But cooked OR sprouted grains are, IMO, very healthy for human consumption. There are some raw fooders who are anti-grain; I’m not persuaded, and I’m not one of them.


  18. That is interesting. The next time I find a deal on wild rice I will have to try that. You come up with some great dishes.

  19. This is obviously great to know for my challenge! I just posted about an AWESOME raw restaurant we just went to in Seattle– if you’re ever there, you have to check it out!

    Also, love the title of this post 🙂