Goji berries are a versatile superfood. They can boost a smoothie, they’re great for baking, perfect in a trail mix, and they’re even a fantastic addition to a salad. Today, we'll look at a delicious vegan goji berry wild rice salad - one of my absolute favorites. It’s wildly colorful and combines the nutritional power of goji berries with wild rice, beets, and chickpeas.
Choosing the Right Ingredients
When you’re buying ingredients, remember that the fresher an item is, the more nutritional value and natural taste it will have. Admittedly, finding fresh beans can be a challenge. If that's the case, dried beans are the next best option. They’re available most anywhere and are easy to prepare. If you’re in a rush, you can substitute one 15oz can of organic beans, drained and rinsed, for 1 ½ cups of cooked, dried beans.
Fresh beets are much easier to find and that's good because beets account for a huge amount of the nutrition in this recipe. Because they're high in beta-carotene and plant-flavonoids, they're great for stimulating the liver. Beet juice is a great source of nutrients like folate, manganese, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Just be careful, as beets and beet juice stain everything! Beets also contain betaine hydrochloride, an organic compound that supports digestion and nutrient absorption, especially vitamin B12, calcium, and iron.
Before we get to the salad itself, let’s start with the vinaigrette dressing. It tastes great!
Tangy Vinaigrette Dressing Recipe
- Makes about 1 cup of dressing
- Preparation time: 5 minutes
- Small bowl
- Wire whisk
- Plastic wrap (optional)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or red onion
- 2 tablespoons raw organic honey
- 2 tablespoons orange or pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.
- If prepared ahead of time, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Mix again before using.
Goji Berry Wild Rice Salad
- Preparation time: Varies, soaking dry beans may take overnight
- Assembly time: 5 minutes
- Serves: 8
- Large bowl
- Salad tongs
- One plate or bowl for each person you’re serving
- Serving spoon
- 2 cups wild rice, cooked
- 1 1/2 cups kidney beans, rinsed, soaked, cooked
- 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, rinsed, soaked, cooked
- 1 1/2 cup goji berries
- 1 cup vinaigrette dressing (above)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 cups spinach leaves
- 2 medium sized beets, drained, cooked, diced
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecan or walnut halves (optional)
- Mix rice, beans, chickpeas, and goji berries in a large bowl.
- Pour 2/3 cup vinaigrette over salad mix and toss.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Line plates with spinach leaves.
- Spoon salad onto spinach-lined plates.
- Spoon diced beets on the side.
- Drizzle remaining 1/3 cup vinaigrette over beets.
- Sprinkle with nuts if desired.
Enjoying Your Delicious Salad and Dressing
- Medline Plus. Foods - fresh vs. frozen or canned. Last updated August 14, 2015.
- Lee JH, Son CW, Kim MY, Kim MH, Kim HR, Kwak ES, Kim S, Kim MR. Red beet (Beta vulgaris L.) leaf supplementation improves antioxidant status in C57BL/6J mice fed high fat high cholesterol diet. Nutr Res Pract. 2009 Summer;3(2):114-21. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2009.3.2.114. Epub 2009 Jun 30.
- Kujala T, Loponen J, Pihlaja K. Betalains and phenolics in red beetroot (Beta vulgaris) peel extracts: extraction and characterisation. Z Naturforsch C. 2001 May-Jun;56(5-6):343-8.
- Váli L, Stefanovits-Bányai E, Szentmihályi K, Fébel H, Sárdi E, Lugasi A, Kocsis I, Blázovics A. Liver-protecting effects of table beet (Beta vulgaris var. rubra) during ischemia-reperfusion. Nutrition. 2007 Feb;23(2):172-8.
- Yago, Marc Anthony R. et al. Gastric Re-Acidification with Betaine HCl in Healthy Volunteers with Rabeprazole-Induced Hypochlorhydria. Molecular pharmaceutics 10.11 (2013): 4032–4037. PMC. Web. 13 June 2016.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.