Saturday, November 17, 2012
RED RICE, WHITE BEAN & VEGETABLE SALAD WITH TOASTED ALMONDS, DRIED CRANBERRIES AND CREAMY BALSAMIC DRESSING
I had a potluck to go to Thursday night and had to make something the night before, as I was going to be on the go all day on Thursday. A hearty full-meal salad is always my go-to dish for this type of situation, but I wanted to make up something colorful and interesting for a rather bleak November day. After assessing the possibilities in my cupboard and refrigerator, I came up with an idea for a non-Asian-style red rice salad that turned out to be really delicious-- enough so that I will make it again this coming Wednesday for another potluck. And, I think it would be an excellent holiday salad, as well.
Whole grain, low-fat, fiber-rich, easy to make, and mighty tasty-- what more could you ask for? Versatility, perhaps? Feel free to experiment with different nut and dried fruit combinations (hazelnuts & dried apricots; pecans & dried sour cherries; dried figs & roasted pumpkin seeds immediately come to mind), and to substitute other crunchy vegetables for the ones I used.
BRYANNA'S RED RICE, WHITE BEAN & VEGETABLE SALAD WITH TOASTED ALMONDS, DRIED CRANBERRIES AND CREAMY BALSAMIC DRESSING
See the blog text for ideas for variations. This makes enough for a party or potluck, and, if you are lucky, you'll have some left over for a school or work lunch.
2 cups Thai (long grain) red rice
4 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
2/ 19 oz. cans white kidney beans or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or use 3-4 cups home-cooked)
1 orange or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow or green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups diced celery (with leaves)
6 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced (both green and white parts)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dark sesame oil
Creamy Balsamic Dressing:
Blend together in a blender or with a stick/immersion blender,
1 cup Low-Fat Balsamic Dressing (see recipe below)
1/2 cup Low-Fat Vegan Mayonnaise (or use Tofu Mayonnaise, Reduced Fat Vegenaise, or Spectrum Naturals Eggless Vegan Light Canola Mayonnaise)
You can cook the rice in a pot on the stove,or in a rice cooker. if you use the rice cooker, follow the directions for your machine, using the rice, water and salt called for above. Otherwise, place these ingredients in a medium pot with a tight lid, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender and no liquid is left. Fluff it with a fork.
Spread the cooked rice out on a baking sheet and allow it to cool a bit. It should be warm, but not hot and not chilled. In a large bowl, mix the rice with the rinsed, drained beans, peppers, celery, green onions and dried cranberries.. Mix together your dressing and toss with the salad ingredients in the bowl.
In a small, heavy skillet (cast iron is good), heat the olive oil and sesame oil and add the slivered almonds. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the almond slivers become golden. Remove from heat immediately and add to the salad. Toss once again, cover and refrigerate until serving time. Bring the salad to room temperature before serving. Garnish with fresh herb or parsley sprigs, or leafy celery stalks, or more toasted almonds.
Low-Fat Balsamic Dressing:
1 cup Fat-Free Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings (OR cold chickpea cooking broth)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar (Costco's Kirkland brand is a good commercial version)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
Whisk, shake, or blend the ingredients together well, bottle and store in the refrigerator.