Summer Saffron Rice Salad

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Fresh summer greens and bits of sweet red pepper dot rice the color of a sunset — this is one good-looking salad to bring to the table, or to pack away for a picnic. In fact, I first tasted it when a Spanish friend brought it to one of our “Shakespeare in the Park” picnics in New York. It’s indestructible enough to go almost anywhere. Can be made hours ahead and chilled, but serve the salad at room temperature.

Cook to Cook: Rice salads are so much easier than potato salads — there’s no peeling steamy, unwieldy chunks. Use our shortcut for cooking rice; that is, boil it like pasta, and drain when it is done. Using expensive saffron to color the rice (its taste was lost in the cooking) is more traditional, but a little turmeric achieves nearly the same color for next to nothing. Just be judicious because turmeric is bitter.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • A medium bowl of ice water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1-1/2 cups long grain rice

Dressing:

  • 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and minced (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
  • 1 generous teaspoon sweet or half hot Spanish paprika (smoked or not, it’s your call) 

Salad:

  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice, or 1 large roasted red pepper
  • 1 heaping tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed, threaded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Leaves stripped from 4 branches fresh thyme
  • Leaves from 10 sprigs parsley
  • 1/2 cup snipped chives or scallion tops

 
Instructions

  1. Combine the onions and ice water and refrigerate 30 minutes to overnight.
  2. Bring 2 quarts of generously salted water to a boil in a 4-quart pot. Drop in the turmeric and the rice. Stir, return to a boil and simmer, partially covered, about 10 minutes, or until the rice is tender, but with a little firmness left. Drain immediately in a strainer, shaking off the excess liquid. Spread the hot rice on a platter or cookie sheet to cool. It will become more tender as it cools.
  3. If using the anchovy, marinate it in the vinegar in a large salad bowl while you prep the rest of the ingredients, or just put the vinegar in the bowl. Combine the olive oil, garlic and paprika in a microwave-proof bowl. Cover with a paper towel and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Scrape into the salad bowl. Gently blend in the cooled rice, drained and dried onions, red pepper and capers. At this point you could refrigerate the salad.
  4. Before serving, return the salad to room temperature, then fold in the peas and herbs. Taste for seasoning, adding more vinegar or oil as needed, then serve it up.

From A Summertime Grilling Guide by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. Copyright© 2012 by American Public Media.

Tags: 
anchovies
Prep time: 
20 minutes
Cook time: 
15 minutes
Total time: 
35 minutes
Yield: 
Serves 4 to 6; doubles easily
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