I, for one, am a fan of shoving carbs into more carbs.
Fluffy french fries nestled inside a juicy lamb gyro? Sign me up. Crackly kettle-cooked jalapeno chips crammed between the layers of a triple-decker turkey club? I’ll take two.
Wild rice inside a sweet potato? Now you’re speaking my language.
The funny thing is that although we’re chatting about carb-loading, this recipe is actually one of the most nutrient-rich, and one of the most flavorful, fall-inspired dishes I’ve laid my fork into this year.
I mean, does it get sexier than rice gone wild?
This nutritious whole grain (not actually a variety of rice, as it turns out) is celebrated for being a phenomenal plant-based protein source that’s low in calories and packed with minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
Despite the fact that wild rice masquerades as rice when it’s an entirely different species, it is still comparable in flavor. The bran (or outer shell) gives it a chewy texture, and because of how it’s processed, there are grassy notes galore with a tinge of smokiness.
Can’t say all that about plain white rice, can you?
On its own, wild rice makes for one heck of a satisfying side dish. But just imagine what would happen if you tossed it with bright, tangy aromatics and piled it inside a tender baked sweet potato.
The depth of flavor within the layered ingredients in this dish is really all we need to cover today. I won’t ramble on with excessively evocative stories of how my childhood was studded with sweet memories of puffy potatoes and rice, because it wasn’t.
I mainly stuck with tuna sandwiches back then, and my dad’s rosemary roast chicken. Insert shrug emoji.
What I will drone on about just a bit is how dope I find the combination of fresh cranberries and balsamic vinegar to be. If you thought cranberries were simply plopped into the bowl as part of the filling for these potatoes, think again.
We take building flavor much more seriously than that around here.
Eaten solo, the raw orbs are invigoratingly tart, so a little heat plus savory onions and garlic are brought in to mellow the acidity, while woody balsamic balances everybody out.
This intensely rich, tangy mixture is truly the heart of the dish. Think of it as the necklace the old lady drops off the ship at the end of Titanic. Or something like that.
A light, citrusy vinaigrette – spiced with smoky cumin and some regulars of peak PSL season like cinnamon and ginger – that comes together in a snap dresses the rice and brightens up every bite. The only thing missing is some crunch, and you can count on the toasted pecans and pumpkin seeds for that.
I’m also a sucker for sage, as the earthy, autumnal herb screams, “Yikes! It’s chilly out,” and I love when leafy ingredients speak to me. That’s added to the flavorful mix as well.
Top this quirky creation with ground turkey for some added protein if the mood strikes, and you’ve practically got an entire Thanksgiving meal stuffed inside each orange spud. I don’t know about you, but that’s a dinner I can definitely give thanks for!Print
For a satisfying fall supper, pull up a fork to these vibrant sweet potatoes stuffed with tangy balsamic cranberries and wild rice.
- 6 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed (about 2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons + 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
- 2 cups low-sodium or homemade vegetable stock
- 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Zest of 1/2 lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- Juice of 1 medium navel orange (about 3–4 tablespoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
- 2 tablespoons toasted shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Pierce the sweet potatoes in several spots with a fork, and then rub them evenly with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.
- Arrange on the foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 40-45 minutes. A sharp knife should slide right through the flesh. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the sweet potatoes are baking, prepare the wild rice. In a medium-size saucepot over high heat, add the stock and bring it to a boil. Add the rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and stir to combine. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the rice is cooked according to package instructions and the grains begin to separate, about 40-45 minutes.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cranberries, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
- Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom, and cook until the liquid has completely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and juice, orange juice, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. While continuing to whisk, slowly stream in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil until combined.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked wild rice, cranberry-onion mixture, citrus dressing, pecans, pumpkin seeds, parsley, and sage, and fold everything together until thoroughly mixed.
- When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them lengthwise and spoon a heaping 1/2 cup of the rice mixture into the middle of each. Garnish with additional parsley and serve warm.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
- Category: Vegan
- Method: Baking/Sauteeing/Boiling
- Cuisine: Dinner
Keywords: sweet potato, wild rice, cranberry, balsamic vinegar
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Bake the Potatoes
Make sure to choose sweet potatoes that are close to each other in size so they cook evenly.
Pierce them in several spots with a fork or sharp knife, and then rub them evenly with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Arrange the root vegetables on the foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the outsides are crisp and golden-brown and the insides are tender and fluffy, for about 40 to 45 minutes. You should be able to slide a sharp knife right through the flesh when they’re done.
Remove the pan from the oven and set the sweet potatoes aside.
Step 2 – Prepare the Wild Rice and Aromatics
If you cook the wild rice while the sweet potatoes are baking, your cooking time will be reduced by 45 minutes as both things take about the same amount of time and can be prepared simultaneously.
In a medium saucepot over high heat, add the stock and bring it to a boil. Add the rice and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and stir to combine.
Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the rice is cooked according to package instructions and the grains begin to separate, for about 40 to 45 minutes.
Place a large dry skillet over medium-low heat and add the pecans and pumpkin seeds. Shaking the pan occasionally to promote even browning, cook until golden and lightly toasted, for about 5 minutes.
Set the toasted pecans and pumpkin seeds aside in a bowl so they don’t continue to cook from the residual heat. Save the pan to cook the onions.
Step 3 – Make the Balsamic-Cranberry Mixture
In the same skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and saute until translucent, for about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cranberries, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Keep a close eye on the garlic to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom, and cook until the liquid has completely evaporated. This will take about 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
Step 4 – Make the Citrus Dressing
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest and juice, orange juice, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
While continuing to whisk, slowly stream in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil.
Step 5 – Toss the Filling, Stuff the Potatoes, and Serve
In a large bowl, combine the cooked wild rice, cranberry-onion mixture, citrus dressing, pecans, pumpkin seeds, parsley, and sage. Fold together until mixed thoroughly.
You can also leave a few of the toasted nuts and seeds separate for a crispy garnish if you like, as the ones in the filling will soften slightly.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, split them open lengthwise with a knife and gently squeeze from both ends to open them and create a well in the middle.
Spoon a heaping 1/2 cup of the rice mixture into each of the wells. It should be overflowing onto the plate a bit, not neatly tucked inside.
Garnish with the additional parsley, and reserved nuts and seeds if you like. Serve warm.
It’s OK to Be a Sucker for Sweet Potatoes
If you’ve got a soft spot for sweet spuds, I guarantee that this dish will make all of your carb-alicious dreams come true.
Don’t worry about being overly precise when it comes to the amount of filling that’s packed into each potato. Rustic recipes like this work best when you eyeball the finished plate to your liking.
We eat with our eyes first, after all.
For help navigating the world of reliably cooked wild rice, give this how-to on the electric pressure cooker method a once-over.
What other flavorful fillings will you load into sweet potatoes this season for a satisfying meal? Share your tasty tricks in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
And next up, get your grains on with these other heart-healthy recipes:
- Wild Rice Salad with a Thai-Style Dressing
- Quinoa Fried “Rice” with Mixed Vegetables
- Curried Brown Rice and Lentils
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Lorna Kring on November 8, 2015. Last updated on November 19, 2021.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”