This gluten free wild rice lentil salad with apples and cranberries is a tasty Thanksgiving side dish that’s full of fresh flavors. Enjoy this for the holidays or at anytime as a light and healthy lunch option.
Here we are in the second week of November, and it feels like time is flying by.
I know that the stores are stocking more and more seasonal produce in preparation for Thanksgiving. I’m always so tempted by the bags of fresh cranberries. This salad is a great way to use them!
This wild rice lentil salad is a dish that you can make ahead of time, and it’s perfect for those with special dietary needs, because it’s not only gluten free and vegan, but it’s free of the top 8 allergens. This salad is packed with color and flavor – crispy apples, tart cranberries, wild rice, black lentils, onions, and celery, all topped with a citrus dressing.
It’s a nice, light, tasty dish that perfectly complements turkey, stuffing, and all the heavier holiday dishes.
Now if you aren’t a lentil fan, you can leave those out, but I do think that they add some nice texture and flavor. Plus they are an excellent source of protein and fiber. You can use green lentils if you wish, but the black lentils are a little bit firmer and hold up better in salads.
Don’t use red lentils – they are too mushy for salad.
What can I use instead of lentils in this wild rice salad?
If you don’t have lentils, try adding some black beans. If you can’t have legumes, you can add a different vegetable, like finely chopped broccoli, red peppers, or shredded carrots.
Can this wild rice lentil salad be made ahead of time?
Yes, this salad can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator.
If you do make this the night before you’re going to serve it, be sure to keep the dressing separate. I find that rice just soaks up the dressing and then a lot of the flavor is lost if you mix it all together too early.
What can be used instead of apples in this recipe?
This salad could be made with fresh pears, or even oranges if you wish. That’s the nice thing about salads – you can be creative and make them your own.
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Wild Rice Lentil Salad with Apples and Cranberries.
- 1 cup long grain brown rice
- 1/2 cup wild rice
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup black lentils picked over and rinsed
- 1/2 cup sweet onion chopped
- 3 celery stalks chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 large apple diced
- fresh parsley
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup organic canola oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons sugar
Place the brown rice and the wild rice in a large pot and add 3 1/4 cups of water and a teaspoon of olive oil. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover pan. Cook for about 40-45 minutes, or until both varieties are tender.
While the rice cooks, cook the lentils. Place them in a pot with enough water to cover by one inch. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover the pan. Cook until lentils are tender but still firm, about 25 minutes. Drain out excess water.
Place the rice and lentils in a large bowl and let them cool before proceeding.
Put the cranberries in a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.
Add the cranberries, apples, onion, and celery to the bowl. Stir well.
Make the dressing: Put the orange juice, organic canola oil, salt, pepper, and sugar in a jar with a lid. Shake well. If you are serving the salad right away, pour the dressing on top and toss to coat. If you are not serving immediately, refrigerate the salad and the dressing and combine just before serving.
Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
You can make this salad the night before if you wish. Keep the dressing separate and just add it right before serving.
Store leftover salad in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Are you the guest or the host this Thanksgiving? What’s on your menu?
This post was originally published in November 2015.