Rice salads are a great way to use up bits and pieces of leftover ingredients. The important things are to cook the rice in lots of water, like pasta, so that it isn't starchy and sticky and to dress the rice while it is still warm.
2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed well
Juice of 2 lemons, plus more to taste, if needed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled
1/2 pound cleaned calamari (squid), bodies sliced into rings, tentacles halved
1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded, or clams, scrubbed
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 pound sliced soppressata or other spicy salami, cut into thin strips
1 red onion, diced small
Minced fresh herbs, such as basil, mint and parsley (optional)
1. Cook the rice in a large pot of rapidly boiling lightly salted water until it is tender, about 15 minutes. Do not overcook or undercook it; the rice should be soft all the way through but should not be beginning to "explode" at the ends. Drain, place in a large mixing bowl, cover with a towel, and set aside for 5 minutes.
2. Add half of the lemon juice, the salt, crushed red pepper, and oil to the rice, and stir gently to mix well. Do not stir too rapidly, or you will crush the rice and it will become sticky. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
3. Cook the shrimp and calamari separately in rapidly boiling water just until firm (1 to 2 minutes for small shrimp; 30 to 45 seconds for calamari). Drain. Place in a small bowl, toss with half of the remaining lemon juice and chill for 30 minutes.
4. When you are almost ready to serve, combine the mussels or clams, the wine and the remaining lemon juice in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover tightly and cook just until the mussels or clams open, about 5 minutes. Discard any that do not open.
5. Remove the rice from the refrigerator and strain the warm mussel cooking juice over the top. Add the shrimp and calamari, the salami and onion and gently toss to mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste. The salad should be pleasantly tart with just a hint of olive oil flavor. If you like, add some minced herbs, but don't go overboard. Place the mussels or clams, in their shells, in the rice and serve.
Adapted from How to Read a French Fry by Russ Parsons.
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