Harvesting wild rice is agriculture at its most romantic. It involves two people, a canoe, and a gentle touch.
One person pushes the canoe through the rice beds with a pole, while the other uses two sticks to gently knock the grains of wild rice from the grasses on which they grow. The plants are extremely delicate and can't be uprooted. "Knocking" the mature grains from the plants allows the immature grains to mature with time.
Wild rice (which is native to America and Asia, and happens to be the state grain of Minnesota) is unrelated to rice; it is actually a grain. It is high in protein and carbohydrates and low in fat. It can be found in the grocery stores under many different brands, though many of the lower priced ones are not wild at all, but a cultivated hybrid—real wild rice is expensive to harvest, and that cost is passed on to consumers.
The simplest way to cook wild rice is to use three parts water to one part rice over a low simmer until the grains burst, about 45 minutes. The Vegetarians in Paradise blog offers wild rice ideas for every meal of the day, including this wild rice, chestnut, and pecan-stuffed squash recipe.
Wild rice is a natural partner to sweet and sour fruit, as in this wild rice salad with sour cherries. If you're looking for something a little heftier to serve during the holidays, though, try this stuffing (by the legendary food writer Clementine Paddleford) that's spiked with a good pound-and-a-half of chicken livers.
Or, soak the rice overnight, and cook for just ten minutes, to make this super simple creamy chicken soup with wild rice from the great state of Minnesota.
Let the romance begin.