Rice is a great ingredient for summer salads. It adds texture and takes away the mundane of having to eat a big bowl of foliage. It is also a great natural carbohydrate instead of having bread as a complement to your salads. In this month’s Dining and Living, we have 3 suggestions on using grains and rice as ingredients for a summer salad.
Black rice (or Bubur Hitam in the South East Asia) not only makes a lovely seafood risotto, it is also flavourful grain for a rice salad dish. We took inspiration from Heidi Swanson and whipped up a black rice salad with a juxtaposition of sweet and savoury flavours using cherries, feta cheese, pistachios, and basil. The combination is miraculously delicious! It will win the hearts of skeptics who would not consider using fruits as ingredients to their main meals.
For the less courageous at heart, we recommend mixing polished aborio rice with wild rice. This will ‘smoothen’ the texture of the rice salad, making it more palatable for novices who have not eaten whole grains and unpolished rice before. The trick to a satisfying rice salad is balancing flavours, making sure you have the right hint of savoury, sweet, and sour in the mix. A quick way to achieve that is by using pickled vegetables such as pickled cabbage (home made red cabbage if you have!) onions, or olives. Corn and fresh peas adds to the sweetness and season with sea salt (I like mine with Maldon Sea Salt Flakes for purity of taste or Alaea Sale for a rustic spike) and aromatic herbs such as basil and sage.
Ran out of rice in the larder? Experiment with other grains such as barley and farro. Many whole grains are suitable ingredients as salads. The same rule to balancing flavour applies. Just remember that whole grains need more cooking time than polished rice. Occasionally give yourself a naughty treat by throwing in chunks of ham or bologna ham (mortadella), if you are not a vegetarian.