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Brown Rice Salad with Basil & Pistachios

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Serves six to eight.

Yields about 6 cups.

Cooking brown rice by the pasta method is quick and results in tender, separate grains with a nice chewy bite. The golden raising in the dressing give this dish a hint of sweetness.

  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.mild-tasting olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted pistachio nuts
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 4 medium to large cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained, and rinsed
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1 tsp. kosher or fine sea salt; more to taste
  • 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)

Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add the rice and return to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until the rice grains are cooked and tender but still a little chewy, 20 to 25 min. Drain the rice through a sieve and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

While the rice is cooking, purée the raisins, 1/4  cup of the oil, and the vinegar in a blender, scraping the jar as needed, to make a thick, smooth vinaigrette.

Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium- high heat and toast the pistachios, stirring frequently, until they brown in spots and give off a strong nutty aroma, about 2  min. Transfer them to a cutting board. When cool enough to touch, chop them coarsely.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Stir-fry the onion and garlic until honey brown, 2 to 3 min. Scrape this into a large bowl along with the pistachios, vinaigrette, chickpeas, bell pepper, salt, and red chile flakes. Add the rice to the bowl and fold the ingredients together. The salad can be served at room temperature or chilled. Just before serving, fold in the basil, taste, and season with more salt, if you like.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on eight servings; Calories (kcal): 330; Fat (g): fat g 15; Fat Calories (kcal): 140; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 2; Protein (g): protein g 8; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 41; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 330; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 6;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I make lunch for the ladies in my office (four of us total) and this was a hit with everyone. I did not serve with shrimp, but alongside a tossed green salad with homemade vinaigrette. A perfect, light lunch for the weekday!

This is a fabulous salad with many delicious and complex flavours and textures. I love the tangy slightly sweet dressing and the pistachios and basil take it over the top. I've made it several times for six as well as two with leftovers. I think that next time, for some variety, I will try a wheatberry or faro grain to replace the rice. Yum

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