Wild rice is not a grain, but an aquatic grass seed native to North America. Hand harvesting makes it expensive, but the yield makes it worth it: It triples in volume when cooked. With a chewy texture and nutty taste, it is especially appealing combined with corn and peppers, both of which are native to the Western Hemisphere, too. This is an American salad through and through, with character and brio. Instead of making another potato salad for next year’s Fourth of July picnic, why not take this? The major components can all be prepared in advance.
1 cup wild rice
3 cups water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
4 ears fresh corn
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for roasting
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning
1 teaspoon chopped thyme sprigs
1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips and roasted
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
In a medium saucepan, combine the wild rice, water, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, and cook over low heat until the grains start to swell but are still firm to the bite, about 45 minutes. Drain, transfer to a wide, shallow bowl, and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Shuck the corn and remove the silk. Holding each ear of corn upright on a cutting board and starting from the tip, slice off the kernels, cutting as close to the cob as possible. Place the corn in a bowl and add a drizzle of olive oil, the ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Place on a baking sheet and roast until the kernels start to brown slightly at the edges, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
Trim off the dark green top and root end on each scallion and slice thin, using the green and white parts. Remove the leaves from the thyme spirits and coarsely chop.
Put the wild rice, roasted corn and pepper strips, scallions, and thyme in a large serving bowl. Add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss to combine, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.