This vegan and gluten-free Wild Rice Pilaf with Pistachios and Pomegranates is a special occasion side-dish for your holiday feast.

A skillet with wild rice, pomegranate seeds, and pistachios.

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by the Wonderful Company. I was compensated for my time. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Why We Love This Recipe For Wild Rice Pilaf

I am like a Pavlov’s dogs when it comes to someone saying the words Christmas dinner. I immediately get a huge craving for wild rice. It is a tradition in our family to have it most years, and I just love the texture of it– a little chewy, but perfectly tender. My mom is usually the one to suggest that we have it, but believe me, if she didn’t I surely would, because it is so good!

Wild rice is also the perfect grain to add to salads, and you can eat it either cold or warm. The tenderness of the rice pairs perfectly with the little flavor-bursts of juice you get when you bite into the fresh pomegranate seeds. The parley really brightens up the dish, and the pistachios add that crunch that we all love.

Although I do love this holiday rice pilaf mostly on Christmas, you can really make it any day of the year, and it’ll taste just as good. I love to make myself a big bowl and eat it just as is, or serve it alongside some source of protein such as turkey, chicken, or beef.

I finished off the pilaf with a final drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. The fruitiness of the oil, the orange zest really set off the sweet tartness of the pomegranate and the nutty wild rice. I can’t wait for you to try it too so you can understand why I love it so much!

A full skillet of wild rice pilaf with pomegranates and parsley, with a serving in a bowl alongside.

Ingredients for This Pomegranate Wild Rice Salad Recipe

Wild Rice

Did you know that wild rice is native to North America, and only a distant cousin of the starchier white and brown rice we commonly eat? It’s tender, hardy, and the perfect salad-grain to keep you full and balance out other flavors.

POM Wonderful POM POMS Fresh Pomegranate Arils & Juice

I also amped up the holiday vibe (and nutrition) to the Wild Rice Pilaf by adding in some more superstar ingredients from POM Wonderful®. I used POM POMS Wonderful Pomegranate Arils which are ready to eat. They are already removed from the pith of the fruit and come in cute little 4.3 ounce containers. Find them, refrigerated, in the produce section. I love these POM POMS because they save time; just open the container and boom! Done. Plus they add in more fiber and Vitamin C for a nutritional boost.

POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice

I used POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice to moisten the mixture. Not only does it moisten the pilaf, but the POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice has been found to have, on average, more antioxidant capacity than red wine, grape juice and green tea!

Wonderful No Shells Pistachios

To add crunch and a festive green element, I added in chopped pistachios. I used the Wonderful No Shells Pistachios, because again… so easy! Just chop and add them in. Not to sound like a broken record here folks, but the pistachios are also a nutritional powerhouse! Pistachios offer a trio of plant-protein, fiber and better-for-you unsaturated fats which may keep you feeling full.

Other Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup finely diced celery hearts
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
A serving bowl with wild rice salad with chopped parley, pistachios, and pomegranate seeds behind.

Step By Step Instructions For This Recipe

First I have a culinary note. Though I am calling this a “pilaf”, I understand that the method here is not completely traditional. Here’s why: traditional rice pilaf is made by sautéing the vegetables and the rice in fat or oil then adding the liquid and cooking together. This step ensures that the rice will not stick together as much because each grain is coated in oil. This step is unnecessary for wild rice because it doesn’t have enough starch to clump. I also wanted to control how tender the rice became; so cooking it in a pot with plenty of boiling water (almost the way you would for pasta) ensures that it becomes tender, but not mushy. Once that liquid is completely drained away it’s added to the sautéed vegetables.

When cooking the wild rice, look for the grains to split, and taste often. Don’t wait for the grains to curl, because the rice will be overcooked and watery.

Step 1: Cook Rice

Place rice in a small saucepan and cover generously with water. Bring water to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat slightly to maintain a simmer, and cook until the rice is tender and just starts to burst open, 27–35 minutes. Drain well in a fine-mesh sieve.

Step 2: Sauté Onion, Celery and Garlic

When rice has about 15 minutes left of cook time, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic and salt, and cook, stirring often until the onion is softened and starting to brown, 6–8 minutes.

Step 3: Combine Rice and Vegetables

To the skillet with onion, celery and garlic, add the hot rice, pomegranate juice and orange zest, stirring until the rice and vegetables are combined, and the juice is simmering. Remove from the heat and stir in pomegranate arils, parsley, pistachios and the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Serve warm.

A side shot of a bowl full of wild rice pilaf salad, with a whole pomegranate alongside.

FAQs and Expert Tips For Pomegranate Wild Rice Salad

In POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate?

Yes! POM Wonderful juice is 100% pomegranate juice, and the pomegranate arils come straight from the fruit.

Is wild rice like regular rice?

Wild rice isn’t like regular rice, but is more often compared to a species of grass, believe if or not! It’s a great nutritious and delicious alternative to white rice, and even has about 30% fewer calories than brown rice.

What are the benefits of pomegranate arils?

Pomegranate can help regulate blood circulation, is good for the heart, your skin, and can potentially aid in weight loss.

How long will cooked wild rice last in the fridge?

Leftover cooked rice can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 4–6 days.

Additional Healthy Recipes To Try

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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A close up of wild Rice with pomegranates

Wild Rice Pilaf with Pistachios and Pomegranates

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This vegan and gluten-free Wild Rice Pilaf with Pistachios and Pomegranates is a special occasion side-dish for your holiday feast.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup wild rice
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup finely diced celery hearts
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 cup POM Wonderful POM POMS Fresh Pomegranate Arils
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup Wonderful No Shells Pistachios, chopped

Instructions

  1. Place rice in a small saucepan. Cover generously with water. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the rice is tender and just starts to burst open, 27 to 35 minutes. Drain well.
  2. When rice has about 15 minutes left, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, garlic and salt and cook, stirring often until the onion is softened, and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add hot rice, pomegranate juice and orange zest and stir until the rice and vegetables are mixed and the juice is simmering. Remove from the heat and stir in pomegranate arils, parsley, pistachios and the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Serve warm.

Notes

Leftover Rice:

Leftover cooked rice can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 4–6 days.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 3/4 cup
  • Calories: 240
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Sodium: 313 mg
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 29
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg