French Rice Salad Recipe
Salade de riz aux légumes is my attempt to serve my family healthy food that doesn't sacrifice flavor. As you may have noticed, I have a tendency to make food that is a bit rich. We're all trying to workout more and get into good shape, and while I won't ever give up butter and cream, I've learned that I don't have to put it in every dish.
The rice salad is made with a blend of both brown and white rice for a balanced texture. I also added a mix of vegetables that are available this time of the season (the zucchini and squash are from our garden). I used fresh steamed corn, roasted bell peppers, diced tomatoes, grilled eggplant, edamame and tofurkey.
Since there is no cheese involved, I was afraid the rice salad would lack flavor, so I made spicy vinaigrette. Since I still need "real" protein besides the edamame beans and tofurkey, I added smoked turkey in a separate batch. Everyone enjoyed it, myself included!
Yields: 6 servings1 cup brown basmati rice
½ cup white basmati rice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 shallot (optional), finely diced
½ red bell pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced
½ green bell pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced
1 Serrano pepper, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced
1 zucchini, diced, boiled and drained
1 yellow squash, diced, boiled and drained
8 black olives, sliced
½ Japanese eggplant
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 corn ears (or canned), husked
6 ounces edamame beans, boiled and shelled
4 slices tofurkey (or real chicken or turkey), diced
juice of 2 lemons
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon agave nectar (or any other sweetener)
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons avocado oil
2 tablespoons curly parsley leaves, finely chopped
For the spicy salad dressing: In a mini-blender., combine the agave nectar with the juice of 1 lemon and the mustard. Add the Serrano pepper, salt and pepper. Mix well. While the blender is still on, add both the olive and avocado oils. Stir well. Set aside.
For the basmati rice:
Wash and rinse both kinds of rice thoroughly in several water baths (about three times). Place in a large bowl, cover with water. Add the juice of half a lemon with its pulp. Soak for at least 1 hour, preferably 2. Drain as much water as possible.
Fill a large pot wiht about 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil. Add the rice. Bring the liquid back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the rice will cook evenly all the way through. Cook for about 10 minutes at a bubbly simmer. Add 1 teaspoon of salt half way through the cooking process (it will enhance the natural flavor of the rice and it will be more tender). Keep stirring the rice every now and then so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. It may take longer than the cooking time written in the instructions on the package. The grains of rice should still be a little hard, about 2/3 of the way cooked. Check often and do NOT wait until the grains are soft and tender. Drain the liquid from the rice using a fine mesh colander. Do NOT rinse. Discard the liquid. Drizzle with the remaining lemon juice. Let it cool completely.
For the eggplant: Slice the unpeeled eggplant lengthwise into thick slices. Layer a cooling rack on top of a tray, then place the eggplant slices on top. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for ½ hour. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Brush a hot griddle pan with oil. Drizzle olive oil on the eggplant slices, then place the slices on the griddle. Cook until you get grill marks (about 4 minutes on each side). Remove from the heat and transfer on a plate. Allow to cool, then dice into small cubes.
Steaming the corn: Fill a pot with water. Add the steamer insert, place the corn ears in the steamer and steam for about 10-12 minutes after boiling begins. Once the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the corn kernels off the cob. Set aside.
For the edamame beans: Blanch the edamame beans in about a quart of salted boiling water. Cook for about 2 minutes. Strain and immediately transfer into a cold water bath. Pat dry on a towel. Season with salt. Set aside.
Assembly time: In a large serving bowl, combine all ingredients. Add the parsley. Drizzle with spicy vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Adjust seasoning if needed.
Let sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving to let all the flavors blend together. Serve at room temperature.
C'est prêt! -"It's ready" (in French).
The key to good rice salad is to have a homogeneous mixture. All the vegetables should be the same size. I cut everything into ½-inch pieces. The other factor to a good salad in general is to have a flavorful dressing.
Blanching the edamame beans will help maintain their very appetizing green color when added to the salad.
How to cut the corn kernels off the cob: Just stand the corn ear on end in a large bowl and slice the kernels down with a sawing motion.
Each cob yields about 3/4 cup of corn.
I use avocado oil because of its exquisite artichoke-like aroma and its thick consistency. Since this oil is fairly expensive, I blended it with olive oil. You can find it at most specialty food stores or online.
You've probably noticed I use a lot of roasted bell peppers in my cooking. I usually roast 2-3 bell peppers at a time. I sprinkle some salt on the roasted bell peppers, place them in a jar and fill it up with pure olive oil. Stored in the refrigerator, they can be kept up to a week. The olive oil will become cloudy in the refrigerator but will regain its regular clarity when brought back to room temperature.
Little reminder on how to roast peppers: Cut the stems off the peppers. Wash them, pat dry and brush with oil. Place a grill on your stove and char all the skin of the peppers. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes until you can handle them without discomfort. Clean the peppers using a knife; the skin will come right off. Seed them and finely chop the flesh.
You can store the rice salad in the refrigerator if you make it in advance and set the vinaigrette aside; otherwise the rice might turn soggy. Just make sure to remove the salad from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.Published By: on June 9, 2010.