You'll love this easy, hearty chilled wild rice and pomegranate salad for make-ahead meals, or for bringing a dish to pass at holidays or celebrations! It's packed with flavor, crunch, antioxidants, and nourishing ingredients to keep salads interesting all winter long. Also, it's gluten-free! This post was rephotographed and updated in 2021.
This wild rice and pomegranate salad recipe is one of our winter favorites for a texture/flavor bomb on our tastebuds! It has everything you need: sweet and crunchy pomegranate seeds (and their health benefits), salty feta, earthy kale, nutty wild rice, zesty red onion, basil, walnuts, and plenty of simple orange vinaigrette to tie it all together. There's a lot going on, but it WORKS, and I might even be so bold as to say the fresh basil makes this dish.
Plus, it looks festive for all the November/December holiday celebrations! Basically, it's beautiful inside and out... of our mouths.
The ingredients you need to make this salad seem like quite the variety, but they play beautifully together.
- Wild rice or wild rice blend - You can use some that you have precooked, or start with it dry. I love using the Lundberg wild rice blend!
- Pomegranate seeds - See my tips on how to deseed a pomegranate (without a mess!).
- Red onion
- Fresh basil
- Olive oil
- Fresh orange
- Cider vinegar
- Pure maple syrup
- Salt & pepper
To make this wild rice salad, you'll start by cooking the wild rice according to package instructions. For wild rice, typically this takes about 30 minutes. Once the rice is done cooking, drain and rinse it beneath some cool water. This will help cool the rice so that it's ready to be combined with the other ingredients.
Once the rice has cooled, place it in a large bowl. Add the kale, red onion, pomegranate, feta, walnuts, and basil. Stir everything together to evenly combine.
Next, make the orange vinaigrette by combining olive oil, cider vinegar, juice of an orange, maple syrup, salt, and pepper in a mason jar. Shake the jar vigorously to fully emulsify the dressing ingredients. Finally, pour the vinaigrette all over the salad ingredients and toss to coat everything.
Eat immediately or chill in the fridge first. It's pretty spectacular when chilled for at least 30 minutes before eating, but I totally understand not having the patience 😉
Hint: To make super flavorful rice, I always heat some olive oil in the pot and toast the dry rice first. Once it smells fragrant, I'll add in the water and salt according to the package instructions.
Substitutions & Variations
If you know how to make the recipe fit a certain diet, let the reader know here. Don't fake it - only provide guidance on topics you have actual experience with.
- Vegan - Omit the feta to make this recipe vegan! The feta adds a nice saltiness to this salad, so to make up for that, you can add just a pinch more salt (taste and see what you think it needs). OR, if you're feeling ambitious and have a little extra time, you can try making your own vegan feta!
- Greens - This is one recipe that actually makes me want to eat kale because of how it soaks up the vinaigrette but still stays sturdy. That said, if you want to try another leafy green, I recommend arugula.
- Nuts - If you're allergic to nuts, pepitas would be a delicious alternative to walnuts. If you're not allergic to nuts but don't have walnuts on hand, pecans, almonds, pistachios, or pepitas (regardless of nut allergy :)) are my top recommended alternatives.
- Grains - Another nutty, chewy grain such as farro, wheat berries, or whole barley would be a great substitute for rice. These types of grains stand up well to sitting in a vinaigrette in the fridge, as they maintain their chewy textures while still soaking up all that flavor. Wheat berries are probably my fave!
- Pomegranate seeds - I love to celebrate pomegranates when they're in season, but red grapes would be delicious in this salad, too!
Store wild rice and pomegranate salad in an airtight container for up to five days in the fridge.
This recipe isn't meant to be frozen, so eat up while it's fresh!
My favorite way to shred kale into small pieces is with a kitchen shears! All you do is snip, snip, and it lands directly into whatever bowl you're using. No messy cutting board, full control over kale size.
Wild Rice Salad FAQs
Wild rice salad is friendly with almost all proteins, so pretty much whatever you serve it with will be delicious. I think salmon, chicken, pork, edamame, or tofu would be particularly delicious!
I don't recommend freezing this salad or any of the ingredients, as freezing changes the texture of these ingredients too much once thawed.
Wild Rice and Pomegranate Salad
This chilled wild rice and pomegranate salad is bursting with flavor and crunch! Sweet studded pomegranate seeds meet salty feta, savory wild rice and onion, crunchy walnuts, earthy kale, and basil beneath a simple orange vinaigrette. Great for make-ahead lunches or holiday dishes to pass!
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 45
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Lunch
- Method: Stovetop + Combine
- Cuisine: American
- 1 cup wild rice or wild rice blend*, dry
- seeds from 1-2 pomegranates
- 4 cups kale, shredded
- ¾ cup red onions, diced small
- ¾ cup feta
- ¾ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup fresh basil, shredded into ribbons
- ⅓ cup cider vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice from 1 orange
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp each salt and pepper
- Cook the rice. Cook wild rice according to package instructions. Once fully cooked, transfer rice from pot to a fine mesh sieve to rinse with cool water.
- Combine salad ingredients. In a large bowl, combine wild rice, pomegranate seeds, kale, red onions, feta, walnuts, and fresh basil. Gently stir together to combine.
- Make the vinaigrette. In a mason jar, add cider vinegar, olive oil, orange juice + zest, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Shake vigorously until fully emulsified.
- Toss the salad. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss to combine. Option to chill for 30 minutes before serving, or eat right away!
- Storage: Store this salad for up to five days in the fridge in an airtight container. Freezing is not recommended for this salad.
- Ingredient prep tip: Save 15 minutes of prep time by chopping/prepping the other ingredients while the rice is cooking! Deseed pomegranate(s), shred kale and basil into ribbons, finely dice onions, etc.
Keywords: wild rice salad with orange vinaigrette, wild rice and pomegranate salad