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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Curried Rice Salad with Cauliflower, Mango and Cashews


A few months back, a dear friend of mine sent me an email shortly after I wrote this whiny post about how challenging it is for me to eat something nutritious for lunch (can you say "first world problem"?). I primarily blamed these two little people for my gourmet lunches featuring crusts cut neatly from peanut butter sandwiches and leftover juice boxes:

The roots of all my problems together in one place. Sigh.
In her email, she suggested that I prepare a rice salad with fresh ingredients at the beginning of the week and then continue to enjoy the leftovers for lunch the following days. She attached a brilliantly yummy recipe that made me fall in love with the concept of a rice salad. I had never had one before and now I wonder where the heck they have been all my life?

Given my love for couscous, quinoa, wheatberry, and other fluffy delicious salads, it would seem that rice salad would be a no-brainer new favorite dish of mine.

I have been enjoying many rice salads for lunch and dinner and have started bringing them as my "side to share" at a few summer potlucks. This is my favorite by far. Indian spices are so warming and they are really elevated with the combination of basmati rice, cashews, and raisins. The curry-sauteed cauliflower adds a crunchy element throughout and the fresh chives tossed on at the end lend brightness, a fresh finish, and a touch of color. We paired this with Paul's charcoal-grilled tandoori chicken and raita. Since this feeds a small army, the leftovers were truly something to look forward to all week long!


Curried Rice Salad with Cauliflower, Mango and Cashews
adapted from Cook's Illustrated 

1 1/2 cups basmati rice (or another long grain rice - but basmati is a real treat)
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons peanut oil (vegetable or canola works in a pinch!)
1/2 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 2-3 cups)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
1 medium mango, peeled and diced fine
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Meanwhile, heat medium skillet with a touch of oil over medium heat until hot. Add the rice and toast, stirring frequently, until faintly fragrant and some grains turn opaque (about 5 minutes). This helps most long grain rice cook up separate and fluffy.

Combine the toasted rice with cold chicken stock in rice cooker. Cook the rice in your rice cooker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Or you can cook it on the stovetop (but I'm lazy and really love my rice cooker).

Once rice has finished cooking, fluff it gently with a fork, and leave it (covered) on the warm setting while you prepare the remaining salad ingredients. Heat oil in medium skillet over high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add cauliflower, curry powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and curry powder adheres to cauliflower, about 1 minute. Add raisins and 1/4 cup water; reduce heat to medium-high and continue to cook until water evaporates and cauliflower is tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer cauliflower to large bowl; add rice, cashews, mango, chives, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to bowl and toss thoroughly to combine. Let stand 20 minutes to blend flavors and serve.

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