Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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A fast and filling dinner

Ann Maloney

Merriam-Webster offers a broad definition of salad: “raw greens (such as lettuce) often combined with other vegetables and toppings and served especially with dressing” and “small pieces of food (such as pasta, meat, fruit, or vegetables) usually mixed with a dressing (such as mayonnaise) or set in gelatin”.

The term salad is applied so liberally that it allows us to turn just about any combination of foods into a salad. (Can a grain bowl also be a salad? Not always, but some definitely qualify.)

One of the things I love about that free-spirited interpretation of what a salad can be is that I often whip up one from what I have on hand. It might have greens. It might not. It might be fruit and nuts. It might be served warm or cold. And, with no boundaries, I’m able to make salads from whatever is in my pantry and refrigerator. Leftovers often find a second life in salads. A few straggler olives (and a splash of the brine from the jar), wilting scallions, past-its-prime parsley with stems and often cabbage, carrots or celery – due to their long shelf life.

That’s what appealed to me about this simple salad from A New Way to Food by Maggie Battista. In her cookbook, which describes her journey developing a healthy relationship with food, she calls the dish Italian-Style Leftover Rice Salad, but I’ve renamed it Rice Salad With Beans, Lemon and Herbs just to make it a little clearer from the get-go what is in it.

Battista makes it with whatever leftover rice she might have. Like her, we often have rice with our meals and so there’s usually leftover rice lingering in the refrigerator or freezer. If you have cooked rice on hand, she notes that this salad comes together in about 15 minutes.

It calls for mixed young salad greens, and Battista describes it as “immensely satisfying” due to those greens, the creamy white beans, and the starchy rice. She sometimes adds canned tuna on top, too.

I couldn’t recall ever making a beans-and-rice salad, but now I know I will experiment with idea, adding it to my weeknight, leftovers and pantry salad repertoire. Maybe you’ll feel the
same way.

Rice salad with beans, lemon and herbs. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON P0ST

RICE SALAD WITH BEANS, LEMON AND HERBS
20 minutes | Four servings

Storage: Refrigerate for up to two days.

INGREDIENTS
– Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
– One cup cooked rice
– Two tablespoons lemon juice (from one medium lemon) or vinegar
– Two handfuls mixed young salad greens
– Two scallions, sliced
– Half medium sweet white onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
– One cup cooked cannellini beans
– Leaves from four sprigs fresh oregano
– Fine salt, to taste
– Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
– Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS
In a shallow skillet over medium heat, heat one tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the rice and saute until just warmed, about three minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Drizzle the lemon juice and the remaining one tablespoon of the oil along the inside of a large salad bowl. Add the greens, scallions, onion, beans and oregano. Add the rice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Using clean hands or a fork and spoon, gently toss everything together, coating it with the lemon juice and the oil that’s in the bowl.

Taste, and season with more salt and/or pepper, if needed. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Nutrition information per serving (One and a quarter cups) | Calories: 388; Total Fat: 15g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 163mg; Carbohydrates: 52g; Dietary Fibre: 8g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 12g

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