This salad. Oh, this salad. It's substantial, light, and totally summer. It's the salad that was demolished — but demolished — at a recent party, causing a friend to declare that I had "won the potluck." It's the salad you should make right now.
This comes from the cookbook Vibrant Food, and it more than lives up to the title. Cooked rice (brown basmati in this case, so it's even all fiber-ful and healthy) is tossed with a spicy-tangy puree of cilantro, parsley, fresh green chile and lime (juice and zest, for even more zip). Then topped with fresh corn — the recipe called for grilled, which would go with the salsa verde flavors, but I can't resist the juicy pop of just shaving the stuff right from the cob. Also, I am lazy. Then add some sliced sweet nectarines, and crumble of creamy-salty cheese.
I have seen this on several blogs recently, and each time the picture looks just as delicious as in the cookbook. Even my lousy cellphone pic of a half-eaten platter still looks tasty. And it tastes even better than it looks. It's easily doubled for potlucks, and makes an amazing packed lunch. And yes, I know the food of every season has its charms. But this salad, all zippy and tangy and sweet and juicy? It's a taste of summer that will be a bit hard to leave behind.
Green Rice Salad with Nectarines and Corn
adapted from Vibrant Food: Celebrating the Ingredients, Recipes and Colors of Each Season, by Kimberley Hasselbrink
serves 4-6 (double for a potluck)
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 2/3 cups salted water
heaping 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus additional leaves for garnishing
heaping 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus additional leaves for garnishing
1 small jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
zest and juice of 1 good-sized lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ears fresh corn, shaved from the cob
2 medium-ripe nectarines, pitted and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
In a small pot, combine the rice and water, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat until it's just high enough to maintain a simmer. Simmer, covered, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Let the rice stand for a few minutes, then fluff. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
When the rice has cooled, transfer it to large bowl. In a blender, combine the cilantro, parsley, hot pepper, lime zest and juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Blitz, scraping down as needed, until it makes a smooth mixture (if you can't get things to liquify, add a spoonful of water as needed to get things to catch). Plop this salsa over the rice, scraping out every last delicious bit, and mix to coat evenly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (the feta will add some salt, but you want it to be flavorful). If you're making the dish in advance, refrigerate the rice at this point, and then let it come to room temperature before serving.
To finish, transfer the rice to a serving dish. Top with the corn, then the nectarines and feta, and garnish with the additional parsley and cilantro leaves if desired. Serve.