Growing up in Minnesota
I grew up in Minnesota, eating wild rice in hot dishes (that’s Minnesotan for casserole) and mixed with white rice on an occasional night as an alternative to potatoes. My parents were raised on farms in Minnesota, with my Dad’s family being potato farmer so we ate potatoes practically every night of the year, except when we had wild rice. I took wild rice for granted and assumed it was available everywhere. It never occurred to me that it was special. Then I moved out of state and quickly learned that wild rice is a Minnesota delicacy as highly prized by some as truffles from France or caviar from Russia. I had no idea!!
Wild rice is the state grain of Minnesota. (Who knew!) Notice I said “grain.” Wild rice is not rice; it’s the grain of a reed-like aquatic plant unrelated to rice. It’s an annual grass that grows naturally in many Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin lakes. The grains are long, slender, and black with a nutty, earthy flavor and interesting texture. As it is wild grass, large-scale commercial cultivation isn’t really possible, making it relatively expensive because it’s harvested by hand. Mixing it with white or brown rice is an economical way to extend its use.
If you have an opportunity to be somewhere that sells it, like Northern Minnesota – buy a few bags! However, if that is unlikely, it is available online. Several Minnesota family farms sell it. Google: Minnesota Wild Rice.
No Cream of Mushroom Soup!
This recipe is NOT from Mom! It is a fun twist on homemade Rice-a-Roni. Unlike wild rice casseroles, this utilizes pasta instead of white or brown rice and no cream soup is needed. It’s easy, delicious, and goes well with chicken or beef. You can easily zhoosh this up with the addition of chopped carrots or bell peppers.
To prep, break about 2 ounces of spaghetti into one-inch (or smaller) pieces. Measure the spaghetti by eyeballing. I buy 8oz packages, so I use about a quarter of it. It’s my experience that one-inch pieces are the easiest to do. I break about five noodles at a time, just snapping them by hand. They do fly – my suggestion is to break the pasta in a bowl with sides. It makes no difference if you use Vermicelli or thin spaghetti instead of spaghetti. Use whatever is in your pantry.
Chop the onion, herbs and mince the garlic before getting started. Fresh herbs enhance the flavor and add a pop of color. If fresh isn’t an option, use a teaspoon of dried parsley and thyme.
3 Easy Steps
The first step is browning the spaghetti over medium heat in a skillet with a bit of olive oil. When the color turns light brown, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl or plate. Add the onion and garlic to the hot oil and cook for a few minutes until the onion is soft.
The next step is returning the pasta back to the pan, stirring in the broth, wild rice, and crumbled bouillon cube, and bringing to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes. If the liquid absorbs too quickly, add additional broth or water as needed.
.The last step is stirring in the butter, the the herbs. Season-to-taste with salt and pepper.
Wild Rice & Roni (A Minnesota Treat) is a beautiful dish with a nutty flavor and multi-textures that is sure to become requested at every special occasion or holiday.
Wild Rice & Roni (A Minnesota Treat)Course: Side DishCuisine: Minnesota InspiredDifficulty: Easy
Wild Rice & Roni (A Minnesota Treat) is a beautiful and easy side dish with a nutty flavor and multi-textures that is prepped in minutes and simmers to perfection while making dinner. Perfect for adding a (stress-free) gourmet touch to holiday dinners, family gatherings, and special occasions.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces thin spaghetti broken into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup wild rice
1 cube chicken bouillon (crumbled)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
Salt & Pepper – to taste
- Prep: Break spaghetti into 1-inch pieces. Finely chop one onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Chop fresh thyme and parsley. (If using dried see note below to adjust the amount). Crumble bouillon cube with a fork or fingers.
- In a medium skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the spaghetti pieces and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer spaghetti to a bowl. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add back the spaghetti. Stir in the broth, wild rice, and bouillon crumbles. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low heat, cover, and simmer heat until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender about 45 minutes. Add additional broth or water if the liquid absorbs too quickly and the rice is not yet tender.
- Remove from heat. Stir in butter, parsley and thyme; season with salt and pepper.
- Spaghetti: Vermicelli or thin spaghetti can also be used. Eyeball 2 ounces – in an 8oz package, use about a quarter of the contents.
- Herbs: If using dry herbs, use 1 teaspoon dry herbs in place of the 1 tablespoon fresh herbs
- Zhoosh it: Add chopped carrots, bell or sliced mini peppers for color and additional flavor