Tuesday, May 13, 2008

May 13: Wild Rice Salad

One of the first things that I was ever allowed to make on my own was pasta salad. My mother figured that, at age 12, I could handle slicing up vegetables and boiling water. I made crazy, schizophrenic pasta salads with everything in the refrigerator: vegetables, cheese, tuna, olives, bottled salad dressing. It could not possibly have tasted good.

But I still love good pasta salad. Orzo with red peppers, red onions, feta, and Greek olives, with oregano and red wine vinaigrette is one of my favorite things. Rotini with basil, salami, and fresh mozzerella, with olive oil and balsalmic vinegar--also delicious. So is penne with diced chicken, sharp cheddar, shredded carrots, sliced radishes, and ranch dressing. I also like just plain old macaroni salad, with mayonnaise, celery, onion, and dill relish.

I have started liking rice salad a lot too. The texture is a little different, the flavors play out a little differently than pasta salad, but I am liking it as well as I like pasta salad.

Here is the rice salad I'm making this week. I am getting a little carried-away in the kitchen these days, and I need to start maybe freezing some things because I was offered a really juicy, yummy dream job of a job today and I am going back to work early next month. But I love this rice salad with grilled chicken and corn on the cob, or pork tenderloin and sauteed apples, or grilled shrimp and a crunchy romaine salad. It's also delicious eaten two days later, standing in front of the refrigerator at 2 in the morning.

Wild Rice Salad

1 6-ounce package Uncle Ben's Wild and Long Grain Rice, Original Flavor
10 ounces chopped, toasted hazelnuts
1 cup sweetend dried cranberries
1/2 of 1 medium red onion, finely diced
2 cups bottled balsalmic vinaigrette dressing, or homemade (I usually make my own, 3 parts good olive oil to 1 part good balsalmic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a very small pinch of sugar if it tastes too tart--but Newman's Own balsalmic vinaigrette is widely available, and delicious)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook rice according to package directions, omitting seasoning packet and shortening cooking time by 1-2 minutes. Rinse rice in a strainer in cold running water and drain completely. Toss rice with dressing and other ingredients. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Chill and serve.

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