Saturday, August 25, 2012

summer in the south saturdays - lemon herb rice salad

Summer is slipping away, friends.  It's nearing the end, and Fall is quickly sneaking up behind.  I can't say I'm terribly disappointed, though.  I adore Fall.  I always have.

I do want to take advantage of a few more dishes before the season fully passes.  There are so many I look forward to having as Summer approaches that I find myself trying to hurry at the end and squeeze them all in.  Such was the case last week.

I was thumbing through a magazine a while ago, and this recipe really caught my eye.  The herb collection called for was refreshing just to read, so I couldn't imagine the actual dish itself being anything less!

This is definitely a lighter fare in its original form, but after starring as a side dish the first night we had it, added grilled chicken also made it a wonderful main dish during a few lunches that followed.   This is really the perfect summer salad, and it gave me a great reason to use up my overgrown mint and basil.  Both, mixed with the cilantro, made for a really bright combination.  

Only one more Summer in the South Saturday post and we're on to Autumn.  I'm hopeful the end of the season will beckon cooler temperatures.  I'm dying to share ideas better suited for such.  In the meantime, enjoy the last of the sun-ripened tomatoes and warm weather offerings.  I'm going to take all I can get!

Lemon-Herb Rice Salad - makes six servings

  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1 cucumber, diced (I used an English cuke)
  • 1/2 almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped

~ Remove two wide strips zest from one lemon with veggie peeler.  Combine zest with the
    oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until edges turn slightly golden, 
    about five minutes.  Let oil cool.
~ Cook the rice as label directs, adding remaining lemon zest strip to the water.  Transfer 
    rice to large bowl, discarding zest.  Fluff with fork and let cool to room temperature.
~ For the dressing, juice both lemons into a medium bowl.  Add the vinegar, brown sugar, 1 
    1/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and whisk until the sugar dissolves.  Discard zest  
    from lemon oil and whisk oil into the dressing.
~ Add onion slices to dressing and let marinate 15 minutes.
~ Add the carrot, cucumber, peanuts, cilantro, mint, and basil to the bowl with the rice.  
Add the dressing mixture and gently toss.

Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine