Table of Contents
  1. This salad will never be an afterthought.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other Thanksgiving recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Wild Rice & Pear Salad Recipe

With a bright citrus dressing loaded with pears and wild rice, this salad will be anything but boring for Thanksgiving! Wild rice is cooked to perfection, and when combined with candied pecans and seasonal fruit, it’s a salad that’s a hearty star!

This salad will never be an afterthought.

A salad should never be boring. We have way too many options for mix-ins, toppings, and dressings for a salad to be left on the Thanksgiving table except for the one relative who is on a diet. This salad is both hearty and full of flavor by taking notes from wild rice salads and merging them with a green lettuce salad.

For heartiness, wild rice is tossed with greens. Wild rice is not traditional white rice. Instead, wild rice has much more texture and flavor. It takes longer to cook but is worth the wait.

The vinaigrette uses orange juice just like wild rice salad does. The orange compliments the rice and adds a bright citrus flavor. This salad hit all the right notes with rice for texture, citrus for brightness, dried cranberries for sweetness, feta for some cheese tang, and sugared pecans.

White serving platter filled with wild rice and pear salad topped with candied praline pecans, dried cranberries, and feta with magnolia garland along the back.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Orange zest has a more pungent flavor than the juice from inside the fruit. The essential oils in the zest offer a bright punch of flavor.
  • Champagne vinegar is a lighter vinegar flavor than some other varieties. The vinegar ensures there is a correct amount of acidity in the vinaigrette.
  • Garlic can be overwhelming but is tempered with the bright citrus in the salad dressing.
  • Dijon mustard, when added to the dressing, works with the other ingredients in the dressing to emulsify the entire mixture.
  • Chopped parsley is a classic component of many rice salads and offers a fresh, almost bitter flavor against the sweet pecans.
White marble surface filled with all of the ingredients needed to make a wild rice and pear salad including lettuce, spices, nuts, wild rice, olive oil, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Prepare the wild rice. In a kettle with water, add the butter and wild rice. Place the kettle over medium heat and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Once boiling, place on the kettle’s lid and boil it for 45 to 50 minutes until all of the water is absorbed. Once done cooking, remove from the heat and allow the rice to cool.
  1. Prepare the praline pecans. To a warm skillet, add the butter and allow it to melt in the pan. Add in the pecans, brown sugar, and orange juice. While the brown sugar is melting, mix everything together so that the pecans are evenly covered in the mixture. After a few minutes, once the pecans are fully coated, remove the nuts from the heat and pour them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Before they cool completely, sprinkle the candied pecans with the salt. Set the nuts aside to cool.
  1. Prepare the salad dressing. In a bowl, combine the Dijon mustard, honey, orange juice, orange zest, champagne vinegar, salt, black pepper, shallot, and garlic. Whisk everything together to ensure that the honey, Dijon, and other spices are fully combined and homogenous. Once combined, while whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Once all of the oil is fully incorporated, set the dressing aside while assembling the salad.
  1. Mix together the salad. Chop lettuce into bite-size pieces and add to a large bowl. Add the cooled wild rice and mix it with the lettuce. Pour on about ¾ of the dressing and mix it into the lettuce and wild rice, reserving ¼ of the dressing to add at the end. Slice or dice the pears, add some to the salad and mix them in. Pour the entire mixture onto the serving platter and top with the remaining rice, chopped parsley, chopped praline pecans, dried cranberries, feta cheese, and the remaining dressing. Serve immediately.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • Wild rice cooks longer than regular white rice because of the texture of the rice. But when used in this salad, it’s definitely a welcome addition. Plus, wild rice is healthier than traditional rice varieties. White or brown rice can be used in its place, but opt for wild rice if possible.
  • When zesting any citrus, hold the fruit in your hand and use the Microplane in the opposite hand. This way, all of the zest will accumulate in the Microplane and will be easy to tap out into the dressing once fully zested.
  • Rather than using a bowl and whisk to combine the salad dressing, the mixture can easily be shaken in a container, whether it’s a cup with a lid or a salad dressing container. Or, it can be made directly in a wooden serving bowl. Whatever works best for your salad-making process will lead to success with this dressing.
  • The best time to taste the dressing for the correct level of seasoning is right after it’s mixed rather than once it’s on the salad. Take a piece of lettuce, dip it into the dressing, and eat it, concentrating on the level of salt and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your personal preference.
Wild rice and pear salad topped with dried cranberries and feta cheese with chopped praline pecans all over the top.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

Can this recipe be made with white or brown rice instead of white rice?

I would not recommend using another rice. Wild rice is not as starchy as white or brown rice and does not stick together. White or brown rice will tend to clump and soak up too much vinaigrette.

Does this same candied nut recipe work if using a different type of nut?

Yes, you could swap walnuts for pecans or almonds. Pecans are more traditional with rice salads.

Is there another cheese that can be used in place of feta cheese?

Yes, goat cheese would be a great substitution for this salad. The tangy, earthy flavors of goat cheese would pair well with the citrus.

How long does this salad last once prepared?

This salad will be best served immediately after it is assembled. The vinaigrette will degrade the tender greens slowly, which means this does not work well as leftovers.

Watch how to make this recipe.

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your dessert table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they too can make, enjoy, and love!

White platter sitting on marble surface filled with lettuce wild rice salad topped with dried cranberries and pears as well as feta cheese.

Wild Rice & Pear Salad

5 from 1 vote
With a bright citrus dressing loaded with pears and wild rice, this salad will be anything but boring for Thanksgiving! Wild rice is cooked to perfection, and when combined with candied pecans and seasonal fruit, it’s a salad that’s a hearty star!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

For the rice

  • 2 ¼ cups water
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup wild rice rinsed and drained

For the praline pecans

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • ½ tsp salt

For the salad dressing

  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ cup olive oil

For the salad

  • 3 heads romaine lettuce chopped
  • 2 ripe pears
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese

Instructions
 

For the rice

  • In a saucepan, combine the water, butter, and rinsed rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the rice until it is tender with all of the water absorbed, 45-50 minutes. Once cooked, remove the lid and set the rice aside to cool.
    2 ¼ cups water, 1 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 cup wild rice

For the pecans

  • In a small nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the pecans, brown sugar, and orange juice. Cook over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes and coats the pecans, 5-8 minutes.
    2 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 cup pecans, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 tbsp orange juice
  • Once the pecans are coated, remove them from the heat and spread them out on a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and allow them to cool.
    ½ tsp salt

For the dressing

  • In a small bowl or dressing shaker, combine the Dijon mustard, honey, orange juice, orange zest, champagne vinegar, salt, black pepper, shallot, and garlic. Whisk to combine.
    2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, ¼ cup orange juice, 2 tsp orange zest, 2 tbsp champagne vinegar, ¾ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, 2 tbsp minced shallot, 1 clove garlic
  • Continue whisking and drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified.
    ½ cup olive oil

For the salad

  • On a large platter or bowl, toss the chopped lettuce, half of the sliced pears, chopped parsley, and the prepared rice. Add the dressing to taste and toss everything together.
    3 heads romaine lettuce, 2 ripe pears, ¾ cup chopped parsley
  • Arrange the remaining pears, dried cranberries, and feta on top of the salad and serve.
    1 cup dried cranberries, ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese

Notes

  • Wild rice cooks longer than regular white rice because of the texture of the rice. But when used in this salad, it’s definitely a welcome addition. Plus, wild rice is healthier than traditional rice varieties. White or brown rice can be used in its place, but opt for wild rice if possible.
  • When zesting any citrus, hold the fruit in your hand and use the Microplane in the opposite hand. This way, all of the zest will accumulate in the Microplane and will be easy to tap out into the dressing once fully zested.
  • Rather than using a bowl and whisk to combine the salad dressing, the mixture can easily be shaken in a container, whether it’s a cup with a lid or a salad dressing container. Or, it can be made directly in a wooden serving bowl. Whatever works best for your salad-making process will lead to success with this dressing.
  • The best time to taste the dressing for the correct level of seasoning is right after it’s mixed rather than once it’s on the salad. Take a piece of lettuce, dip it into the dressing, and eat it, concentrating on the level of salt and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your personal preference.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 531kcal
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Difficulty Easy
Method Cooking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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