Years ago, I went to a local restaurant called First Street Haven and had a brown rice salad. I don’t remember what it had in it other than rice, but I do remember how simple it was that I have replicated it many times my own way.
You can use anything you want, but of course, the base is brown rice (could use white, but brown is better for you) and you need some kind of vinaigrette. I usually make this with whatever I have on hand. Today I made this with:
Brown rice (instructions below)
Vinaigrette (recipe below)
2 slices of chopped bacon (great base ingredient)
Beet greens, stems seperated and chopped
Small piece of tomato
To begin, you will need to have or prep the first 2 ingredients, if you don't have it already.
Here is how I cook my brown rice - my ratio is 1 cup of brown rice to 2-1/4 cups of water. I grew up eating rice cooked in a rice cooker, but for several years made it on the stove. I don’t rinse the rise, add it to my pot with the water, cover and bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for about 40 minutes or until the water evaporates. It is very important to let rice sit covered for 5-10 minutes to finish the cooking process - if not, the rice on the bottom gets gummy. I’m now back to cooking rice in a rice cooker, I missed the texture of how rice is from a cooker. If using cold rice, mic it for 1 minute.
Basic vinaigrette - Why use store bought when you can make your own? In a small container with a lid, add about 2 tablespoons of mustard (I mix Dijon with whole grain), several splashes of red wine vinegar, double that amount of extra virgin olive oil, pepper, granulated garlic & onion. Put the lid on & shake to combine. This could also be whisked in a bowl.
To make the salad, I first saute 2 pieces of bacon with about ¼ cup of onions. I then add whatever takes the longest to cook next, in this case, it was the beet green stems. I let that cook for a several minutes, then I chopped up the zucchini and added that to the pan and let that get brown. Next was the artichoke hearts, this time I even chopped up the meat in the stems - it's good stuff, don't waste it. I had a little bit of tomato, so that got chopped and included. Mix everything well then add the warm rice.
By now, everything has created a nice brown crust on the bottom of your pan. Don’t think of that as being a chore to scrape when you have to wash the pan. All that browness is like gold, it has a lot of flavor in it and if left, would be a waste. Instead, use this technique to get all that great flavor incorporated into your salad.
Pour in about 1/4 cup of your vinagrette depending on how much salad you have, you may need less - don't drown it. Mix it in well and you're done. Can be served warm or room temp, serving this cold would not work because brown rice is hard and not tasty when it's cold. The finished dish looks very similar to fried rice, but the flavors are different.
Like I said in the beginning, you can mix and match your favorite ingredients. You can do this with smoked salmon, lunch meat, chicken, beans, other veggies or even leftover dinner - you are only limited by your palate.
This took less than an hour to make, unless you need to cook the rice and make the vinaigrette - everything else is already done (minus cooking the bacon). This makes a great light lunch or a perfect summer dinner, just add some side dishes of your choice and you have a great light and healthy meal.
So, there you go, another easy recipe that takes no time to make.
Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this recipe or any of my other posts. Thanks!