- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

What is it about the combination of fruit, nuts and grains that works so well in a salad?

The variety of textures and colors, depending on the available fruit, can inspire the creative spirit. The dish can be an appetizer, salad, lunch entree with soup or a side dish.

I have many recipes for such combinations, but this one — lemony and laced with garlic, greenish in hue, and crunchy with toasted pecans — is my favorite.

In late winter, I like to combine green apples and dried cranberries, and when grapes are in season, this salad looks and tastes spectacular with red grapes. I even make a stunning late-fall version with diced Fuyu persimmon and pomegranate seeds.

No matter what fruit you choose, the result will be flecks of bright color against a green background of rice that has been tinted by a fine mince of parsley and scallion. The best ways to achieve this effect is to work the herbs into a feathery state in a mini food processor, but it can also be minced with an extremely sharp knife.

The rice can be cooked a day or two in advance. All other ingredients can be prepared while the rice is cooking. The salad keeps very well for up to five days, if stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Jeweled rice salad

You can substitute 2 cups red seedless grapes for the apple and cranberries. Leave smaller grapes whole; cut the larger ones in half. Or use 1½ cups diced Fuyu persimmon (the firm kind) with ½ cup pomegranate seeds.

2 cups uncooked long-grain brown rice (basmati is fine)


1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 to 8 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon salt, or more

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon light-colored honey

4 to 6 scallions

½ cup (packed) parsley

1 medium-sized unpeeled Granny Smith apple, diced

1/3 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted

Freshly ground black pepper

Place rice in a medium-large saucepan and add 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to lowest possible simmer. Cook, undisturbed, for 40 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and rice is tender.

If all water is gone and rice is still crunchy, add another 3 tablespoons water and continue to cook 5 to 8 minutes longer, or until rice is done. Remove from heat immediately and transfer rice to a long, shallow pan, spreading it out and fluffing it with a fork to let steam escape. This prevents the rice from overcooking in its own heat and becoming mushy. You also want separate grains for this salad.

In a large bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, salt to taste, garlic and honey, and whisk until combined. When rice has cooled to room temperature, add it to this dressing and stir well until rice is coated.

Cut scallions into 2-inch pieces (including white and green parts) and place in a mini food processor with parsley. Buzz until finely minced. Or mince until feathery with a very sharp knife.

Add scallions to taste, and add parsley, fruit and pecans to rice mixture and stir gently with a large fork until uniformly combined. Add pepper to taste. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill well before serving. (This also tastes good at room temperature, but it does need at least 4 hours in the refrigerator, so the flavors can meld.) Makes 6 servings.


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