I dread the summer barbecue request "can you bring a salad?". I want to scream - No, I can't do salads, please, please let me do dessert!. Instead I cave in and spend the available time thumbing through cookbooks and searching online recipes for a salad that isn't just lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and avocado.
My hopelessness with salads was brought to a head recently whilst reading the lovely Sue's blog Couscous & Consciousness where not only does she show an aptitude for creating a mouth-watering range of salads but also requests readers share their own favourites.
I obediently searched my blog only to find (much to Sue's amusement) NO salads! She's kindly given me time to address this and with great fanfare I give you my favourite salad because it's easy, it's fresh and tasty, and everyone who eats it loves it.
I've given the recipe for cooking in a pan on the stovetop but I've successfully cooked this in a rice cooker too, checking the rice to water ratio to fit with the rice cooker guidelines. Make the dressing in advance to save time.
Herb and Rice Salad2 dessertspoons oil
1 1/2 cups white (or brown) basmati rice
700ml boiling water or vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
50g baby spinach leaves
8 spring onions (white & green parts)
2 heaped teaspoons chopped fresh herbs
(e.g. a mix of thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, tarragon
whatever you can get - don't use dried herbs though)
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
Extra grated lemon rind for garnish
Salad dressing1 tsp rock salt
1/2 tsp black pepper (grind onto baking paper for easy measuring)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
5 tbsp olive oil
Heat the oil in a large saucepan (one with a lid). Stir in the rice then add the boiling water or stock. Add the salt. Stir once and allow to come back to boil.
Cover with lid and reduce the heat to a bare simmer (you may need to use a simmer mat as you don't want to burn the rice). Cook very gently for 40-50 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and rice is just tender. You may find it cooks quicker if you can't reduce your heat enough.
While rice is cooking, chop up the spinach leaves and spring onions finely. Once the rice is ready, fork these into it, along with the chopped herbs and grated lemon rind. Cover the pan with a folded tea towel and set aside for 10 minutes.
To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a small glass jar with a lid and shake until blended.
Place the rice in a serving bowl, pour over the salad dressing and fluff it up with a fork.
Top with some grated lemon rind.
Can be served warm or cold.