Did you know that Oregon produces 98 percent of the hazelnuts in the United States? Actually, here they are more typically called “filberts,” by native-born Oregonians, or so I'm told. Although these nuts are not technically native to Oregon, they were brought here in the 1850s, from England, and became the state's official nut in 1989. But then again, I now consider myself an "Oregonian," though I was transplanted here four years ago...
I am actually a native Minnesotan, where Wild Rice is indeed native. In fact, it isn't really a rice at all, but an aquatic wheat that grows naturally in the cold lakes of Minnesota. No need to fear, though - even though it is related to wheat, it is naturally gluten free.
This month's “Go ahead honey, it's gluten free” topic is indigenous foods; utilizing food that is native to your area to create delicious dishes. My entry this month is a delicious, healthy wild rice salad and the best part? Everything I used to make this dish could be bought from local farmers. Hazelnuts, wild rice, spinach, broccoli, and jonagold apples are all abundantly available from local farmers in Oregon. Chicken is available as well, but I purchased mine at the grocery store. I feel like it is a good blend of what is native to my "native" part of the United States as well as symbolic of what is grown locally to my current part of the United States.
Hazelnut-apple wild rice salad:
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken*
1 enormous (or two smaller) jonagold apples, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 cup hazelnuts (filberts)
2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
1 cup chopped broccoli
½ large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
Place apple pieces in a saucepan and add a splash of water. Sprinkle with nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice (or apple pie spice) and stir. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes, until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.
In a medium-sized skillet, over medium heat, saute onions in olive oil and a good dose of balsamic vinegar. Saute until onions start to caramelize. Add cooked chicken and heat through, adding spinach and cooking until the spinach just slightly starts to wilt.
Mix the onion/chicken mixture and the apples in a large bowl.
Steam the broccoli in a small saucepan and add to the onion/chicken mixture.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350F. In a sturdy plastic bag (I usually use a quart-sized freezer bag), coarsely crush the hazelnuts. Place them on a baking sheet and roast them, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown and turn fragrant, about 10-15 minutes.
Warm the wild rice (if cooked ahead of time), add the lemon juice and salt, and stir. To serve, place ¼ of the rice on a plate and spoon a ¼ of the chicken/onion/apple mixture over the top. And, last but certainly not least, sprinkle the hazelnuts over each plate.
Feeds 4. Enjoy!
*Kitchen tip: I often cook a whole chicken the crockpot on Sunday or Monday and then use the cooked chicken in all sorts of ways all week. The small scraps from wings and legs can be used in soups or salads and the breast meat can be used for sandwiches. I may even use it in a dish which I freeze for later - this week I shredded some of the breast meat, added cayenne pepper, cumin, and rosemary and used it in a batch of gluten free empanadas, which I froze for later!