Let’s get back to Thanksgiving preparations… After all, it is only two and a half weeks away.  So let me introduce you to another side dish.

Wild Rice Salad

It’s full of all the flavors you love at Thanksgiving.  Cranberries, pecans, green onions, celery, and a fragrant pumpkin vinaigrette.  You can prepare it a day ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Get it out a couple of hours before lunch and let it come up to room temperature.  Give it a quick stir and you are set!  A delicious salad that doesn’t require oven space!

If you don’t have this salad for Thanksgiving, it’s a great, go-to meal.  Serve it over a green salad and top it with some grilled chicken.

Wild Rice Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 (6 oz.) pkg. long-grain and wild rice mix
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 T. honey
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant.
2.  Prepare rice according to package directions; let cool completely (about 25 minutes).  Stir in cranberries, celery, green onions, and toasted pecans.
3.  Whisk together canned pumpkin, next 5 ingredients, and 2 T. water.  Gradually whisk in olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until blended.
4.  Pour vinaigrette over rice mixture; stir gently to coat.  Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours.  Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Source:  Southern Living, November 2011