Wild Rice and Chanterelle Salad with Dried Fruit, Goat Cheese and Walnuts

WILD RICE AND CHANTERELLE SALAD WITH DRIED FRUIT, GOAT CHEESE AND WALNUTS

INGREDIENTS:

8 cups water
2 cups wild rice
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 bay leaf
12 sprigs thyme
4 teaspoons grapeseed or canola oil
2 pounds chanterelle or portobello mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped

Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and cracked
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and cracked
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mixed dried fruits, such as cherries, cranberries, raisins, chopped figs, or chopped apricots
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 pound stemmed arugula or watercress
8 ounces fresh white goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)

PREPARATIONS:
To prepare the rice: Wash the rice under cold water for 2 minutes. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add the salt, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the washed rice to the boiling water and simmer for 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain the rice and remove the bay leaf and thyme; let cool. (This can be done 1 day ahead of time and refrigerated.) You should have 7 cups cooked rice.
In a large skillet, heat the grapeseed or canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from heat, drain well, and set aside.
To make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, shallots, fennel, cumin, thyme, and pepper and season with salt. Add the dried fruits.
In a salad bowl, combine the cooled wild rice, cooked mushrooms, and walnuts. Toss with the vinaigrette and fruits.