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This recipe for gluten-free Holiday Harvest Rice is the perfect vegan Thanksgiving side, complete with mushrooms, sage, apple, and pomegranate seeds.
I shared a little sneak peek of my vegan Thanksgiving meal this year on YouTube and TikTok and received so many requests for my Holiday Harvest Rice recipe! I make this dish every year, and it’s always a hit at holiday parties.
Not only is it a crowd-pleasing vegan and gluten-free side dish, but it also makes a hearty winter dinner recipe. Once you try this festive vegetable-packed rice recipe, I think you’ll agree that it deserves a spot at any holiday table. It’s full of fresh herbs like sage that remind me of the holidays, and festive pomegranate gems.
How to Make Holiday Rice Salad
This dish is super easy to throw together with cooked rice, a mixture of seasonal vegetables, and herbs. The beauty of this Holiday Harvest Rice is that you can enjoy it as an entree, or serve it as a side dish. In addition, it also stores well, so it’s leftover-friendly and great to make for the family.
Healthy Holiday Rice Dish
The recipe is vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and made with simple, whole-food ingredients. And you can even make it oil-free! However, I recommend using a smidge of extra-virgin olive oil to help wake up the aromatics of the herbs.
Here’s what you need to make this vegetarian holiday recipe:
- Mixed grains. I use a mix of quinoa, wild rice, and long grain rice for optimal texture, flavor and plenty of fiber. However, you can use any grain or grain mixture that you like. I think using a mix adds a nice variety in texture and flavour.
- Aromatics. This rice salad gets tons of flavor from onions, garlic, shallots, celery, and carrots. Ultimately, many great holiday dishes start here!
- Mushrooms. Sauteed mushrooms add an amazing umami component. There’s also just something so magical about fresh herbs and mushrooms together.
- Fresh herbs. I like to use rosemary, sage, and thyme: the holy trinity for holiday flavors in my book.
- Apple. For some crunch and light sweetness. But don’t worry if you’re not usually a fan of fruit in savory dishes. I find that the apple really helps to balance the dish and adds a nice freshness. In addittion, you could also use fresh pear.
- Pomegranate arils. These little ruby gems are a must-have. First of all, they add an amazing burst of tart flavour. And secondly, they make the dish extra visually stunning.
- Gluten-free soy sauce. This adds a unique depth of flavor that really brings out the delicious mushroom goodness. Or, you can also use tamari.
- Vegetable broth. While you can also use water, broth adds tons of flavor.
Tips for Success
Use these tips to nail your holiday rice salad:
- First, I recommend to finely chop the celery and carrots to speed up the cooking process. If you prefer crunch, however, feel free to keep your pieces a little larger in size.
- In addition, you can even prep the vegetables the day ahead. If you do, store them in an airtight container or Stasher bag until you’re making the salad.
- Next, to make the dish oil-free, simply omit the vegan butter. However, you may want to use ground dried herbs instead of fresh. The oil really helps to bring out the flavor in the fresh herbs, so I recommend using at least a small amount.
- Finally, you can prepare your grains in advance or use leftovers in place of the grain mix.
Make-Ahead Rice for Thanksgiving
Feel free to make this dish, or components of the dish, ahead of time. The rice salad will stay fresh for one to two days in an airtight container in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, take it out and let it come to room temperature for an hour.
Ingredient Substitutions & Mix-Ins
This is a very forgiving recipe. So if you’d like to mix things up flavor-wise, here are a few swaps and additions to try:
- Add toasted nuts or seeds like hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds or pine nuts.
- Swap the apple for pear or dried cranberries or cherries.
- Use different herbs like tarragon or oregano.
- Finally, try a mixture of different mushroom varieties for added texture and flavor.
More Grain-Based Vegetarian Side Dishes
- Golden Garlic Quinoa
- Creamy Mushroom Quinoa Bake
- Herbed Mushroom Carbonara Pasta
- Three Mushroom and Quinoa Soup
- Healthy Vegan Pumpkin Pie
- Quinoa Fried “Rice”
If you try this holiday harvest recipe, tag me on Instagram @veggiekins so I can see your delicious re-creations and feature them! As always, I love when you share your reviews in the comments below, and if you make any fun substitutions, let me know how it worked out below too.
Holiday Harvest Rice (vegan, gluten free)
- 1/4 cup long grain brown rice
- 1/4 cup white or tri-colour quinoa
- 1/2 cup wild rice
- 2 1/3 cups vegetable broth
- Everything else
- 1 red onion minced
- 1 shallot minced
- 1/2 cup celery minced
- 3/4 cup carrots minced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 12 oz mushrooms of choice I used button, oyster and shiitake
- 1 tbsp fresh sage minced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme stems removed
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary minced
- 1 tbsp gluten free soy sauce
- 1/2 large apple diced
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 tbsp vegan butter*
- The grains
- Add grains and vegetable broth to a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Once grains are ready, give them a gentle fluff and set aside.
- Everything else
- In a large saucepan, sauté onion, shallot, celery and carrots with a touch of neutral oil until tender. Add garlic, mushrooms, herbs and gluten free soy sauce and sauté for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add the cooked grains to the mix and gently fold to evenly combine all of your ingredients. Finally add apples to warm for a few minutes. If using vegan butter, toss into the rice until melted and nicely incorporated. Taste, and season your rice with salt and pepper as desired.
- When ready to serve, toss pomegranate seeds into the rice and enjoy!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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