If you’re having a gathering and want to skip the pasta and potato salads you served all summer, think rice.
What’s to like about rice salads is they are a breeze to make. All you need to do is cook the rice, chop a few vegetables and make a vinaigrette.
Why vinaigrette? Because you won’t use as much and you don’t want to drown those grains in a creamy dressing. A rice salad should be light tasting, with the grains separated, not clumped together.
You can use white or brown rice for a rice salad, but don’t stop there. At most stores, you will find plenty of rice varieties to choose from, including some that are aromatic.
Jasmine rice is fragrant and floral and a good match for any variety of chopped vegetable and light vinaigrette. Basmati rice, popular in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, has a nutty nuance and also is great paired with vegetables and even fruits.
Both jasmine and basmati are long-grain varieties, meaning the grain is long and narrow. They both cook just like white rice. Because the grain is slender, it makes them especially suitable for salad. These varieties are also available in the convenient 10-minute, boil-in-the-bag option.
Rice Salad with Avocado and Grape Tomatoes
Source: Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
3 cups cooked white, basmati or jasmine rice
2 cups grape tomatoes
1/2 green bell pepper, washed, diced
4 green onions, washed, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted, diced large
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons favorite chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled
In a large bowl combine the cooked rice, grape tomatoes, bell pepper, green onions and cilantro leaves. Add the avocado chunks and toss gently, taking care not to break up the avocado. Season with salt and pepper.
In a blender or food processor, combine all the dressing ingredients and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Pour over the salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate. This salad will keep in the refrigerator about two days without the avocados turning dark if it’s covered tightly with plastic wrap directly on it.
Per 1/2 cup serving: 153 calories (53 percent from fat), 9 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 16 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 68 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber.
Yield: 5 cups.