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Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Earthy flavors and good, chewy texture characterize this salad. Serve it tucked in the curl of a lettuce leaf surrounded with rose-red radicchio, or simply by itself. This salad would contribute well to a Thanksgiving or holiday dinner.
Rinse the wild rice, and soak it in water for ½ hour; then drain. Add 4 cups fresh water and the salt, and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, at a simmer until the grains are swollen and tender, but still chewy, about 30 to 35 minutes. Pour the cooked rice into a colander and let it drain briefly.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. While the rice is cooking, toast the hazelnuts in the oven 7 to 10 minutes, or until they smell toasty. Let them cool a few minutes; then rub them in a kitchen towel to remove most of the skins. Don't worry about any flecks of skin that won't come off. Roughly chop the hazelnuts, leaving the pieces fairly large.
Rinse the currants in warm water and squeeze them dry; then cover them with the orange juice and let them soak until needed.
Prepare the vinaigrette.
Put the orange peel, orange juice, lemon juice, and vinegar in a bowl with the salt, scallions, and crushed fennel seeds. Whisk in the oils, then the herbs. Taste, and adjust any of the ingredients if necessary. The dressing should be fresh and sparkly
Add the soaked currants and the fennel to the warm rice, and toss with the dressing. Just before serving, cut the apple into small pieces, add it to the rice, along with the hazelnuts, and toss. Season with freshly ground black pepper, and additional salt if needed, and serve.
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