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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The perfect dish for a sunny summer day . . .
Mmm, my mouth is still tingling with refreshing and garlicky goodness, so I have to write while I am still feeling inspired. Today in Portland was HOT, and it was also a day of many errands for me. I ran around like a madwoman, sanded and varnished furniture, washed my car, picked blackberries, went to Freddy's about 14 times, and the list goes on. All of the things I did simply reeked of summer, but also left me feeling hot and tired at the end of the day--I needed make something light and delicious for dinner. Then a small light bulb went on in my head as I remembered through the murky past yet another recipe from my lovely Italian roommates--except that in this case, I had only tried the recipe on my own one time, four years ago, to miserably failed results.

But now I was ready for another try. So I went and got some arborio rice and a lemon, and I was set to make some delicious cold rice salad. Now, let's pause a moment and just get this straight, arborio rice, alright? No substitutes! Remember how I said that my first attempt at this recipe was a miserable disaster? Yeah, well, that is the result of rice substitution, a nasty habit that I will avoid from now on, since the arborio results tonight were simply delightful.

here's what you'll need:

A couple tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup arborio rice
A refrigerator
3 small tomatoes, minus the juice and seeds, chopped
Large handful of basil leaves, chopped up
Handful of sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
1 clove garlic, minced very small
1 lemon
olive oil

So keep in mind, this is a salad--like any salad, the ingredients are not set in stone, and nor are there relative ratios. So make this to your own taste--the amounts above are what I started with, but I didn't use all of everything--for example, I had some tomatoes left at the end--the garlic, especially, use with caution, a thing I failed to do, which is fine by me, but probably not so great for most people's palettes.

To start: Sauté the chopped onion in a bit of olive oil for a minute or two, then add the rice, and keep sautéing a couple minutes, until slightly browned. Add 2 cups of water, stir, cover, and cook for however long it takes (sorry folks, I have no idea how long that is) take the rice off when the water has been absorbed and the rice is still a little chewy. Now throw the whole thing in the fridge for an hour or so to cool down.

Meanwhile, assemble the other ingredients: Chop the tomatoes in half, squeeze out the seeds and juice, dice, and leave in a colander to drain (the less liquid the better, unless you want a soggy mess instead of a salad). Chop the basil. Chop the scallions. Chop the garlic. Gather the sunflower seeds. Now make a dressing out of the juice of one lemon, half that volume in olive oil, a large pinch of salt, and a pinch of sugar. Get out the parmesan. Set everything aside until the rice is cool.

Once the rice is cool: Add the ingredients to your own taste, giving the salad a good stir after each ingredient. Save the dressing for second to last though (add just a little of that at a time, and test, as a little goes a long way). Salt to taste, then stir in some grated or canned parmesan, and you are ready for a lovely Italian summer salad. It sounds complicated, but believe me it's not--and if you want to simplify, the only essential ingredients are the tomatoes, basil, salt, and the lemon/olive oil dressing. Enjoy!

posted by Erin at 7:56 PM;

Blogger shan said...

Erin, this looks fantastic! I can't wait to try it. I wonder how it would be with (tun tun tun)...arugula! =)

9:34 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Shan, be my guest and try it with arugula, just don't ask me to eat any!!

Hee hee.

11:36 AM  

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