Thursday, April 5, 2007

Wild Rice and Fennel Salad

I was shocked to see that I had only ever posted about rice once before in this blog, in the post about butternut squash risotto. I think I'd deliberately avoided it for awhile, because rice is one of my all-time favorite foods ever. In any form. I have yet to meet rice I didn't like (well, except when it's overcooked and mushy and gross, but that's not the rice's fault now is it?)

This rice salad is made according to the same principles as pasta salad: cook the base, cool it, and add raw goodness and dressing. 101cookbooks recently posted an entry about the principles of making a great pasta salad here, and it's worth checking out. Most important point, according to me: not too much dressing. Soaking is unnecessary.

I like that this salad stays crisp. The fennel adds a lot in terms of texture (and it's so minty-lemony and fresh tasting...), as do the almonds. This is definitely an uncommon salad in that it's still good the next day.

The recipe for the dressing, in my opinion, suggested way too much oil. Way. A 6 tbsp oil to 1 tbsp vinegar ratio, to be precise. I stepped it up to about 3.5 tbsp vinegar to 6, and it still came out a bit too oily for my tastes. Then again, how often can you cut fat and say it legitimately improves the dish? I'll consider that a victory.

The recipe I used, from the Reader's Digest 30 Minute Cooking, also suggested using hazelnuts and raisins. I can take or leave hazelnuts, but really I think the idea here was any crisp nut. No pecans or walnuts. But shavings of almonds did a great job.

Final note concerning dressing: I used orange zest instead of orange juice--the juice would help cut back on the oiliness, but not enough. Definitely cut that back independently of whether you use zest or juice. I also added thyme, which really jazzed up the dressing. I'll probably be making this dressing for other dishes later. It's quite yummy.

That's it! Here's the recipe, and enjoy!

Salad

6 oz wild rice and long grain mix

Salt

1 large fennel bulb

6 green onions

2 oz nuts

2 tbsp raisins

Dressing

2 sprigs tarragon, thyme, and parsley

6 tbsp oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Orange flakes (1 tsp)

Salt and pepper


Bring 2 cups of water to boil, add the rice and salt, cover and simmer 18-20 minutes, or until cooked.

Meanwhile, rinse and dry vegetables. Thinly slice the fennel and onions. Chop the nuts and add. Mix all in a salad bowl.

Add herbs and orange to oil and vinegar; whisk.

Drain the rice, and rinse briefly under a cold tap. Drain well, and mix into salad. Garnish with tarragon.

30 Minute Cookbook

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