Monday, May 29, 2006

Now that cookout season is upon us, I am always on the lookout for new, fun, "cookout" type dishes to bring with me to friends' bbqs. When I was young, my mom was famous for her rice salad (or rather, for The Silver Palate Cookbook's rice salad)and she would make a big batch of it every time we had company over in the summer. My first summer in my apartment I got the recipe from her, modified it a little, and served it when I had company over for dinner and it was a big hit. It is colorful, cool, and delicious, not to mention relatively easy to make. I chose to use a red onion instead of a purple, and I nixed the currants all together which is what my mom did as well.

Silver Palate's Rice and Vegetable Salad

8 cups hot cooked rice
1 1/2 to 2 cups Our Favorite Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 sweet red pepper, stemmed, cored and cut into thin julienne
1 green pepper, stemmed, cored and cut into thin julienne
1 medium size purple onion, peeled and diced
6 scallions (green onions), cleaned and finely sliced
1 cup dried currants
2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed and blanched in boiling salted water for 3 minutes
1/2 cup pitted black olives, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Transfer rice to a mixing bowl and pour 1 1/2 cups vinaigrette into rice. Toss thoroughly. Cool to room temperature.
2. Add remaining ingredients and toss thoroughly. Taste, correct seasoning, and add additional vinaigrette if you like.
3. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Return to room temperature before serving.
8 to 10 portions.

Our Favorite Vinaigrette
(of you can just use regular balsamic vinaigrette which is what I do when pressed for time)

1 tablespoon prepared Dijon-style mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
minced parsley and/or snipped fresh chives, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Measure mustard into a bowl. Whisk in vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and herbs to taste.
2. Continue to whisk mixture while slowly dribbling in olive oil until mixture thickens. Adjust seasoning to taste. Cover until ready to use (vinaigrette is best if made just before it is to be used.) If necessary, whisk again before serving.

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