A sensational salad of brown rice and quinoa, packed with summer greens.
I know what you’re thinking. Rice salad? Isn’t that a bit old fashioned? Well I thought so too. But last week when I completed the volunteer sign up to make lunch for the teachers at Mr L’s school, it was all that was left. My heart sank a little, because I picture rice salad as a bland and gluggy affair at a communal barbecue. The poor cousin salad that only gets eaten when everything else has vanished, and even then under sufferance. So I took this as a challenge. Creating a rice salad that would demand to be eaten first. A salad full of crunchy green vegetables, loaded with herbs with a zing of citrus. Oh my, this is good!
I started with a delicious brown rice and quinoa blend made by SunRice. I cooked this in the rice cooker for the 25 minutes specified on the packet and it came out nutty and delicious. And I will let you in on a secret. If you are short of time, you can buy this is a package that cooks in the microwave in 90 seconds. Perfect!
I cooked 2 cups as I was making for a crowd – you could easily halve this quantity if catering for less people. Now here is the trick. While the rice is still warm, pour the salad dressing over and stir gently through. As the rice cools its absorbs all that citrus mustardy goodness and explodes with flavour in your mouth. No boring rice salad here thanks! Once cooled, I stored in the refrigerator overnight, as it was to be delivered to the school early the next morning.
Now to the vegetables. Aren’t they beautiful?I chose sugar snap peas, peas, cucumber and asparagus – all crisp, crunchy and gorgeously green, plentiful during the summer months and just wonderfully cooling. They may also be all my favourite things, just saying. So if there is something you don’t like, leave it out. Something you want to add – put it in. I would just suggest sticking to crunchy veg. If you come up with a good variation, I would love to hear about it!
Now for the herbs:I used dill, mint and parsley. Again, you can try different combinations if you prefer or things you grow in the garden. I love mint especially with the citrusy dressing, and parsley has been much overlooked. Tarragon would also be a good add in or substitution for the dill. And because I forgot to take a photo of these with the vegetables, some green onions or shallots chopped – they add a nice bite.
The vegetables, herbs and rice can be stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve – tossing together at the last minute will ensure the veggies stay nice and crunchy. Once mixed, taste for seasoning, and then place on platter or in a bowl. Top with some crumbled feta and there it is – Summertime Rice Salad! I am picturing this on a red platter for Christmas, or with some pomegranate arils sprinkled on top to add to the festive feel.
- 2 cups brown rice and quinoa
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tbs)
- 2 tbs red wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbs seeded mustard
- salt and pepper
- 2 Lebanese cucumbers, halved lengthways, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 cup frozen peas, blanched
- 2 bunches of asparagus, cut into batons and blanched
- 150g sugar snap peas, cut in half on the diagonal
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup each of Italian parsley, mint and dill
- 100g Danish feta
- Cook brown rice and quinoa for 25 minutes in a rice cooker (or as per instructions on packaging of the rice you choose). Let stand for 5 minutes then turn out into a large bowl.
- Combine the garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, vinegar, olive oil, mustard and salt and pepper and pour over warm rice. Stir to combine and set aside to cool. Refrigerate until required.
- Combine vegetables and herbs and store in a separate container in the refrigerator.
- Just before serving, toss vegetable mixture through rice, taste for seasoning adjustment and turn out onto serving platter or bowl.
- Crumble feta cheese over the top to serve