Wild rice, Chicken, Sweet Potato, Cashew Arugula Salad

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I love adding wild rice to my salads, I am now a believer in adding sweet potatoes to my salads too!  Did you know that wild rice isn’t actually rice?  It is actually four species of grasses forming the genus zizania and the grain which can be harvested from them.  

 

Chicken Marinade:

3-4 chicken breasts, sliced into fourths

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

pinch of salt

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Salad Ingredients:

cooked wild rice (we used 2 cups uncooked, this was too much)

1 sweet potato

Arugula

cashew pieces

dried cranberries

olive oil

salt

pepper

 

Dressing:

2 lemons, squeezed

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Directions:

1) Combine the ingredients for the marinade (minus the chicken) and boil on medium heat for about 10 minutes until the sauce becomes thick.  Cool for about 10 minutes and pour over the chicken pieces.  Marinade for at least 1 hour (which should be the amount of time it takes to prepare the rest of the meal) or overnight.

2) Cook the wild rice.

3) Heat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1/4″ squares.  Place into a baking dish drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/pepper, stir to coat.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes stirring every 10 minutes to make sure the sweet potatoes do not burn.  Once they are cooked through remove from the oven and set aside.

4) Combine all ingredients for the dressing and place in an airtight container so you can shake and combine the ingredients more easily.

5) Cook the chicken pieces in a medium-high heat skillet pouring in the marinade.

6) Once the rice/chicken are cooked, place a handful of arugula on each plate, place a scoop of rice on top of that, add a few pieces of chicken, and top with the sweet potato pieces, cashew pieces, dried cranberries and sprinkle with the lemon honey dressing.

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Buttermilk Sauce

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Let me tell you right from the beginning that I will never be making gnocchi by hand again.  Ever again.  Unless I have like 10 people helping me.  These little potato wonders took me forever to form.  My feet were hurting me and I was bored out of my mind.  So, while I’m posting this recipe I don’t recommend making it unless you have help, at least two other people (10 people is a little over the top).

The buttermilk sauce was to die for, so I will be making that again.  Just not with home made gnocchi.

 

Gnocchi:
2 pounds sweet potatoes (as close as you can get
1 large egg yolk
1 container whole milk ricotta
2 cups all purpose flour (plus a little more if needed
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1) Cut the sweet potatoes into about 3″ pieces and stab all over with a fork, wrap in a damp paper towel and steam in your microwave until they are tender all the way through when pierced – they need to be super tender.  Rotate every 5 minutes per side for medium sized potatoes (it took about 20+ minutes).  You can also roast the potatoes in your preheated 400° F oven about 50-60 minutes.
2) While the potatoes are still hot carefully slice in half and then scoop out the flesh.  If you have a potato ricer push the innards through it – I didn’t have one and just shredded with a box grater.
3) After the shredded potatoes have cooled to room temperature add the egg yolk, crumble the ricotta on top, and sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour on top.  Cut in those ingredients with a spatula using a chopping motion until mixed.  Add in an additional 1/4 cup of flour at a time and fold it in.  After the dough is not sticky you can use your hands (make sure that they are lightly floured).  Use additional flour as needed so that the dough is not sticky (think of bread dough).
4) Gather the dough into a ball, lightly pat dough into a disc, and then form it into a compact log and let it rest for 5 minutes.
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5) Cut log into 8 segments. Lightly flour your counter or board.  Roll one segment out at a time into 1” thick logs cutting the logs into individual 1″ pieces.   You can create grooves by  rolling on a gnocchi board or with the tines of a fork (what I did).  Place your formed gnocchi on a plate and refrigerate until ready to cook.  They can be frozen on the sheet and then placed into a ziplock bag and kept in the freezer up to 3 months, once you are ready to cook them place directly into boiling water.
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Buttermilk Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cayenne (more if you want an extra kick)
1/2 cup packed grated gruyere cheese (about ½ cup, packed)
1) Melt the butter over low heat, once melted gently stir in the flour.  Bring the mixture to a bubble on medium low and let cook about two minutes – do not brown or burn!! In another pot warm buttermilk slowly and add the salt until just warm – do not let it get too hot or it will curdle!!
2) Slowly pour the warm buttermilk into your roux (butter and flour) whisking vigorously. Bring this mixture to a boil over medium high heat being sure to whisk constantly until the sauce has thickened.
3) Once it has remove from the heat and stir in the nutmeg & cayenne to taste.  Then stir in the shredded cheese until it has fully melted.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.
To Serve:
12 figs, quartered (if you can find fresh hooray! if not dried work perfectly well)
6 slices pancetta – fried crispy and crumbled
fresh chives – chopped fine
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1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi. Give them a gentle stir after a few seconds to prevent sticking. Cook about 5 minutes or until they float to the top. Remove and drain.
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flour on the forehead!

2) Toss with the buttermilk sauce, pancetta, and figs.
3) Sprinkle with the chives and serve immediately.

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