Cold Rice Salad with Papaya
We finally have beautiful sunshine in the Bay Area. We've been waiting for the sun for so long that today, in honor of our quite overdue patron of summer, I prepared a dish that is refreshing, healthy and flavorful.
Specifically, I made a cold rice and papaya salad. I boiled brown rice, and mixed in vegetables, steamed lentils, lime juice, ginger and fresh papaya. The key to good rice salad is to have a homogeneous mixture. All the ingredients should be cut the same size. The other factor for a good salad in general is a flavorful dressing. I met that requirement with a sweet and spicy papaya ginger dressing.
This version is vegetarian, but you could also finish the salad with grilled jumbo shrimp in shells or grilled chicken breasts. Also, I served it in tea cups. For an original presentation, you could serve it in papaya halves. Here comes the sun!
Yields: 8 servings2-½ cups brown rice (see tips)
1-½ tablespoons salt
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 Hawaiian papaya
1 carrot, peeled, diced and steamed for 5 minutes
1 green bell pepper
1-½ cups steamed French lentils, separated
1-½ tablespoons homemade sweet chile jam, or any store-bought spicy sauce
2 limes, freshly squeezed
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt), to taste
3/4 teaspoon pink, green and black peppercorn medley, freshly cracked
1 tablespoon sesame oil
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 cup papaya ginger dressing (recipe follows)
Cooking brown rice:
Wash and rinse the rice thoroughly in several water baths (about three times). Place in a large bowl, cover with water. Add the juice of half a lime with its pulp. Soak for at least 1 hour, preferably 2. Drain as much water as possible.
Fill a large pot with 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 15 minutes at a bubbly simmer. Add 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. Brown rice tends to take longer to cook. Cook for another 30-35 minutes until the grains are tender. Drain the liquid from the rice using a fine mesh colander. Do NOT rinse. Discard the liquid. Drizzle with the juice of a lime. Let it cool completely.
Prepping the rest of the ingredients:
In a small bowl, combine the sweet chile jam, finely chopped shallots, grated ginger and the remaining lime juice. Set aside.
Peel the papaya. Cut it in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Cut into ½-inch cubes. Add the papaya pieces to the shallots. Mix well.
Stem, seed and cut the green bell pepper into ½-inch pieces.
Add the diced papaya mixture, lentils, green bell pepper, diced carrots and parsley to the cooled rice. Toss thoroughly. Season with sea salt and the peppercorn medley. Drizzle with sesame oil. Set aside for about 10 minutes. Drain and discard about half of the liquid; otherwise the salad will be too watery.
When you're ready to serve, add the salad dressing. Toss well. Adjust seasoning if needed.
Let sit for about 5-10 minutes before serving to let all the flavors blend together. Serve at room temperature.
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 at least 30 minutes before serving.
Little reminder on how to obtain grated ginger: Clean the ginger root and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife (or the edge of a spoon). Grate the ginger with a fine mesh Microplane. Gather about 2 teaspoons of grated ginger root.
I used store-bought steamed black lentils from Trader Joe's.
For the Asian dressing: In a bowl, combine the juice of 2 limes, 1 tablespoon sweet papaya jam (I used Goya brand preserves), 1 tablespoon horseradish mustard and 1 teaspoon grated ginger. Whisk well. Add 3 tablespoons grape seed oil. Season with salt and black pepper.
For added crunch, you could top the salad with crushed roasted peanuts, slightly toasted pumpkin seeds or blanched sliced almonds.Published By: on June 13, 2011.