Santa Rosa Chicken and Wild Rice Salad

This delicious Santa Rosa salad, packed with tender chicken, nutty wild and brown rice, and crunchy veggies, makes a perfect, light weeknight meal + it is a fabulous dish to bring to your next potluck!

This delicious Santa Rosa salad is so easy and fast to make and packed with the most delicious flavors!

I have certain people in my life who make me turn into a crazy person by the simple act of sending/giving me a new recipe to try.

I will literally drop everything I’m doing, run to the store immediately, if necessary, and make the recipe within the hour because I know I’m looking at life changing food in my near future.

They probably don’t realize the power they have – or the pressure this puts on them to seriously deliver great recipes.

My friend, Mel B. (a little confusing since we share the same first name, I know), is just such a friend. We’ve known each other for almost two decades, and even though we’ve never lived close to each other (a travesty), she has the best taste in food and has given me many recipes over the years.

Actually, you have benefitted from some of them already!

Amazing Key Lime Cheesecake
Sweet Baked Ham
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Easy Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

Have you made any of these amazing recipes?

This delicious Santa Rosa salad is so easy and fast to make and packed with the most delicious flavors!

Today’s recipe is another of Mel’s favorites.

Santa Rosa salad!

She sent it to me just weeks before she had her 5th boy (!!), and I’ve made it at least 3-4 times since.

Mel requests this meal each Mother’s Day, and after tasting the deliciousness, I can see why.

It is everything a main dish salad should be: light, healthy, filling, and TASTY!

Seriously, it is fabulous. Just look at those colors! It’s even tastier than it looks, if you can believe it.

This delicious Santa Rosa salad is so easy and fast to make and packed with the most delicious flavors!

I’ve forced a few local friends to try out this recipe, as well. And the feedback is that this Santa Rosa salad pretty much rocks.

You’ve got the crunch of the crisp veggies, tender juiciness of the chicken, heartiness of the wild rice blend (lots of options here, so check out the notes below the recipe), smooth creaminess of the avocados, and the tangy freshness of the easy, homemade dressing.

Be still my heart.

Not only does this simple salad make a fabulous weeknight dinner, but it is a great option the next time you’re asked to bring a salad to a potluck or other share-a-dish function.

You could leave out the chicken for a meatless version, too!

This delicious Santa Rosa salad is so easy and fast to make and packed with the most delicious flavors!

I’ve taken to serving the flavorful concoction over torn butter lettuce – optional, but extra delicious, I think. You could also toss the lettuce right into the hearty salad, too.

That’s what Mel-that’s-not-me does. And we trust Mel!

A little unique and a lot delicious, this Santa Rosa chicken and wild rice salad is amazing!

And since we are still hanging out (read: melting) in the high 90’s/low 100’s here, I’m indebted to meals like this for pretty much eradicating my heat-induced bad mood.

Divine breadsticks, homemade rosemary bread, or pao de queijo {gluten-free Brazilian cheese bread}
Fresh fruit

One Year Ago: The Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Two Years Ago: Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto Hash Browns
Three Years Ago: Frozen Mint Lemonade Slush
Four Years Ago: Tappan Hill Brownies
Five Years Ago: Summer Couscous Salad

Santa Rosa Chicken and Wild Rice Salad

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Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 3/4 cup (about 6 ounces) wild rice blend (see note)
  • 2-3 cups cooked, diced or shredded chicken (this pesto marinated chicken is delicious in this recipe; rotisserie chicken is also a great option)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup chopped sugar snap peas (chopped, blanched asparagus works great as a sub)
  • 1-2 avocados, peeled and diced
  • 1 head butter lettuce, chopped (optional)

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil (like vegetable, canola, avocado)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the rice according to package directions. Scoop the cooked rice into a large serving bowl and let cool to room temperature (alternately, the rice can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed).
  2. Add the chicken, bell pepper, peas (or asparagus, if using), and avocado.
  3. For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a jar or blender and shake/process until well-combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
  4. Pour about 2/3 of the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Add more dressing to taste or for desired consistency, if needed.
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate the salad for 1-2 hours (you may want to save a bit of the dressing and toss the salad with it before serving if it has been refrigerated).
  6. Give the salad a good toss before serving.
  7. The chicken and rice salad can be served: a) on its own, b) over a bed of chopped butter lettuce, or c) tossed WITH the butter lettuce. Yum!

Notes:

The rice blend used in this salad is very adaptable! I’ve used a boxed wild rice blend before, as well as the brown rice medley from Trader Joe’s. Another time I made it, I used a rice/quinoa blend I found at Costco (not sure it even had wild rice in the ingredients, but it was still tasty). 

This recipe includes the time needed for cooking the rice; however, you can get ahead of the game if you make the rice before you need it, and store it in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the salad. The dressing can also be made ahead of time (several days!). 

If all you have is seasoned rice vinegar, I’d omit the salt and sugar and then add those ingredients to taste, if needed, at the end. 

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Recipe Source: sent to me by my sweet friend, Mel B. (lots of variations of this salad online)