Monday, March 30, 2015

Brown Rice Salad with Asparagus, Goat Cheese, & Lemon

Many years ago, I had a recipe for a rice salad. I really liked that rice salad but sadly, I lost the recipe and I have no recollection of what was in it. I just know I really liked that rice salad. Over the years, I've looked at other rice salad recipes but none really excited me. Recently I've begun making good on my threat to go through the past 7 years of Cook's Illustrated magazines piling up in SP's office and rip out the recipes I want then recycle the rest of the magazines. He's not thrilled with me. He doesn't want the magazines ripped apart, but since no one ever rips out the interesting stuff (or makes notes on which issue has which recipe), we never make any of the recipes because I forget about them as soon as the issue disappears, intact, into his office. He may or may not completely finish reading the issue before tossing it in the magazine basket and forgetting about it until I threaten to rip and toss. Well I'm re-reading and ripping and tossing anyway and that is how I came across this recipe for Brown Rice Salad with Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Lemon from the July/August 2013 issue.
The main recipe is titled Brown Rice Salad, which sounds kind of boring, but it's not once you choose one of the versions to make. We chose the one with asparagus, almonds, and goat cheese. They also made a red pepper, olive, and manchego version and a fennel, mushroom, and walnut version, both of which sound yummy.

Instead of using our rice cooker, we followed CI's boiling method to cook the brown rice. CI determined the absorption method caused the rice to cook unevenly, but boiling the rice in water and then draining it (like pasta) produced evenly cooked rice and cut the cooking time a lot. They cooked 1.5 cups of rice in 3 quarts of water for 25 minutes then spread the rice out on a cookie sheet and sprinkled 2 tsp vinegar (or citrus juice) over it so the hot rice could absorb extra flavor (we used lemon juice). We used our "pasta pot" so we cooked our rice in about 4 quarts of water.
We roasted our asparagus instead of cooking it in oil in a skillet but we kept an eye on the asparagus and took it out when it was still a little firm/crisp because we didn't want it to get too mushy in the salad. This was enough for 3 dinners for us so since the salad was going to be in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, we kept the toasted almonds and goat cheese separate from the rice and asparagus so that they wouldn't get mushy and sprinkled them on top at each meal.
This is really tasty. I even liked the brown rice and normally I prefer white to brown rice. The lemon juice brightened the dish. The toasted almonds were a crunchy and nutty touch. The goat cheese was smooth, cool, and creamy with that nice goat cheese tang. This would be a great salad in the summer. Next time, I'd treat this as a side dish and maybe have some chicken or grilled shrimp with it instead of making it our entire meal. I'd like to try one of the other versions, too.

Our version of Brown Rice Salad with Asparagus, Goat Cheese, & Lemon:

For rice:
1.5 c brown basmati rice
2 tsp lemon juice

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add rice and salt. Cook 25 minutes. Drain rice. Spread the rice out on parchment lined cookie sheet and drizzle with lemon juice. Let rice cool completely.

For asparagus:
1 Costco package of asparagus (about 2.5 lbs)
olive oil, salt, pepper

Place asparagus on foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Roast until desired tenderness. Cool. Cut into 1 inch pieces.

For dressing:
2.5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients together. Can add 1 shallot, minced, to dressing if desired.

To make salad:
Combine cooked & cooled rice, roasted & cooled asparagus, and dressing. Season with salt & pepper. Place desired serving amount in a bowl/on a plate. Top with as much/little goat cheese as you like and as many/few toasted, slivered almonds as you like.

*The recipe calls for 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley. We would have used dried parsley and mixed it in with the rice & asparagus, but looking at the photos, I think we skipped/forgot the parsley.
*Suggested goat cheese amount: 4 oz (we used more)
*Suggested toasted, slivered almond amount: 1/2 c (we used a bit more)

CI recipe here.

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