Wild rice! The cool, obscure grain that hasn’t had its ‘moment’ yet. Seriously, Wild Rice Council–where you at?? When’s the last time you made wild rice? Never. That’s what I thought. When’s the last time you ate wild rice? Thanksgiving at your aunt’s house three years ago. Yeah, I knew you’d say that, too.
Seriously, give quinoa a break. The UN said that 2013 was the International Year of Quinoa (lol) but it’s almost 2018 so let’s switch up our buddha bowl bases, mmkay? I love quinoa, like any other good Millennial but my gripe with it is that there are so many other grains that aren’t getting their moment. MY favorite being wild rice.
I love wild rice for mainly sentimental reasons–I ate it as a kid while at sleep away camp in northern Minnesota (tangent: Bemidji, MN and Paul Bunyan will always be two of my favorite things). But, it’s also a nutritional heavyweight. Wild rice is kind of a fraud because it isn’t technically “rice.” It’s a seed of a species of aquatic grass that mainly grows in the Great Lakes region of the USA. It’s one of the two dietary stables of Native Americans living in the area (corn being the other). Most wild rice available today is cultivated (traditionally) in Minnesota and (farmed conventionally) in California.
When buying wild rice I always look for a “made in Minnesota” seal. Uncultivated Minnesota wild rice must by law be harvested in the traditional Native American way, and only by those licensed to do so. Not only does this support a traditional, local industry in northern Minnesota, it also guarantees that the wild rice you’re buying is of the highest quality possible.
Wild rice can be a little pricey but, it’s super nutritionally dense and can easily be swapped into meals instead of meat (which can also be very pricey). Wild rice is a bit higher in protein than other whole grains (second only to oats), and is a good source of fiber, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, vitamin B6, lysine and niacin. There isn’t a ton of research available about the health benefits of wild rice because it isn’t a common food. But, the research that does exist is really exciting!
A vintage article (it’s older than I am) found that wild rice is extremely high in antioxidants. A more recent study analyzed eleven different samples of wild rice and found that the antioxidant activity in wild rice was THIRTY times greater than that of the white-rice control. Another study found that wild rice proved effective in lowering cholesterol and other lipid measures.
Wild rice is rarely center stage–maybe you’ve seen it as the odd looking thing in a rice pilaf? But, these burgers are all about it. They highlight the nuttiness and chewiness that makes wild rice a staple in Native American diets. Mixing in some hassle free lentils make these burgers even more nutritionally dense–legumes like lentils are hailed for their high fiber content, ability to lower cholesterol and homocysteine, and stabilizing blood sugar.
- 3 cups wild rice, cooked
- 1 cup raw, mixed mushrooms, chopped
- 4 eggs
- ½ whole milk yogurt (not Greek yogurt!)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup oat flour (could substitute whole wheat bread crumbs)
- 3 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground, black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon (just trust me, okay)
- oil or non-stick spray for pan
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix all ingredients together until well incorporated.
- Place mixture into refrigerator for about 15-minutes, to firm slightly.
- Using a 1-cup measuring cup form patties and place on parchment paper.
- Heat a tad of oil over medium-high heat (cast iron pan is best).
- Cook patties until brown and crusty on both sides--about 4 minutes a side (don't overcrowd the pan!).