Friday, May 8, 2009

Rice Salad

I love risotto. It's a satisfying comfort food for me, but only in the winter. It just doesn't seem like the kind of thing I want to eat once the weather gets warm. Instead, my warm weather alternative is rice salad which I make with the same arborio short grain rice used to make risotto. I put it together using many different ingredients (often a function of what's in the refrigerator). Here's a typical recipe. I served this yesterday when two of my daughters and my two grandchildren came over for lunch.


1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 red bell pepper
1 small head of cauliflower
5 pieces of corn on the cob
1/2 pound fontina cheese (Italian), cut into bite-sized chunks
10 gaeta or mixed olives, pitted
1 tomato, sliced
Parsley, chopped
Vinegar and oil


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To prepare the rice, bring 3 cups of water to the boil with a teaspoon of salt. Stir in the rice, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Turn the rice out in a large flat bowl and immediately add about 1/4 cup of good white wine vinegar. (I used an orange muscat champagne vinegar from Trader Joe's) Spread the rice out to hasten cooling.

Cut the cauliflower into individual florets, and halve the bell pepper discarding the seeds and the white spine. Toss the vegetables in olive oil and salt and lay them out on a sheet pan. Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast till the skin of the pepper begins to wrinkle and the cauliflower has browned on the edges (about 20 minutes).

Shuck the corn and lay the pieces in a large pot with about 2 inches of boiling, salted water. Cook till tender. (about 5 minutes) remove the corn and allow to cool. Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the pepper (it should peel off easily) and cut into strips about an inch wide. All but three of the strips should then be diced. Using a sharp knife (I like to use a paring knife) cut the niblets from the cobs by holding the cobs upright and slicing down the length of the cob. Mix the diced pepper, the cheese chunks, the olives and the corn and toss them with the rice adding 1/2 cup olive oil. Arrange the cauliflower and tomato slices around the edge of the bowl and the three reserved slices of red pepper across the middle. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve.

This is a satisfying lunch dish which also makes a beautiful presentation. I have also served it as a dinner entree adding cooked shrimp or grilled sliced chicken slices. I really like the corn, rice pepper combination, but you can use any vegetables you like.

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