21 August 2010

Summer Rice Salads

Too. Hot. To. Move.

If you are one of the lucky few who is not suffering from sweltering summer temperatures, I‘m happy for you. And hate you just a little. But for the rest of us, it’s time to find things to eat that don’t require cooking, am I right people?

Enter rice salads, yet another way to make use of leftovers and avoid turning on the oven. Cold rice can be pretty dry and clumpy right out of the refrigerator, but if you let it sit out on the counter for an hour or so, it will come up to room temperature and be just perfect. Or if you are impatient, slowly microwave it, bit by bit, while stirring it until it becomes softer and moist again. No need to make it hot, though!

So, the basic idea is cooked rice + veggies (+ meat substance) + dressing. Here are some of my favorite combinations:

Margherita Rice Salad:

2 cups white rice + 1 medium chopped tomato + crumbled feta or cubed fresh mozzarella + teaspoon capers + torn fresh basil (+ roasted chicken or prosciutto) + pine nuts + Italian vinaigrette*

French Bean and Rice Salad:

2 cups white or brown rice + 1 cup steamed green beans (+ leftover fish) + slivered almonds + French vinaigrette*

Asian Rice Salad:

2 cups Jasmine rice + 1 cup Asian-y veggies (edamame, red bell pepper, pea pods, carrots…go wild) ( + tofu, pork, beef, or chicken)+ cashews or almonds +Asian vinaigrette*

Get the idea? Measurements are just working ratios—make as much or as little as you want. Eyeball the dressing when you stir it in. Get crazy with nuts, cheeses, or olives, too. The beauty of this salad is that it works with most leftover you have in your fridge, as long as you stick to things that you know you like eating together.

*Vinaigrette dressings:

Italian: 4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 8 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. fresh or dried chopped herbs (oregano, basil, parsley), 1 small minced garlic clove, salt and red peppers flakes to taste

French: 4 Tbsp. red or white wine vinegar, 8 Tbsp. olive oil, ½ tsp. prepared mustard (brown or Dijon), ½ tsp. dried tarragon, salt and black pepper to taste

Asian: I use my tofu marinade for this.