Lesson learned: Rice salad

Hmm. Before leaving for the weekend trip, each couple claimed a few meals to take care of while we were there. I did a snack and dinner on Friday after we arrived, and tried to think of things that wouldn’t require a ton of prep work while we were busy opening up the camp (actually a really nice cabin) for the summer. I took sausages and asparagus to grill, and the makings of fancy s’mores for dessert, and made a rice salad at home to take as a side.

Now. My mom has been making this salad my whole life, and it’s always really good. I was afraid I’d run out of time friday morning, though, so I made it most of the way on Thursday, then dressed it on friday, crammed it into a tupperware, and took it to the lake. Something went awry somewhere between dressing it and eating it, though. I don’t know if it was just too smushed into the tupperware, or if I should have left the dressing off completely? The rice, which was perfect the night before when I put it into the fridge (already cold) was a mushy mess, and quite unappetizing. Plus the cucumbers had gone soft, so there was no longer a nice crunchy texture mixed in. The worst part? I’d cooked 2 cups of rice, so I still have enough to feed an army!

In theory this is a great picnic food, though. It doesn’t have anything that goes bad at room temp, it’s tangy and interesting… I should try again, but it involves lots of steps and chopping so I’m not sure I’ll get around to it.

The recipe is based on a verdure, a vegetable topping that can be used on bruschetta or mixed into pasta or rice for a salad. For the Verdure:

Peel, seed and chop four roma tomatoes:


(If you don’t know, peeling tomatoes is super-easy if you put them in boiling water for a couple seconds, then plunge into cold water. The skin comes right off.)

Peel, seed and chop 1/2 cucumber (I used almost a whole one):


Chop a small red onion:


Salt (1 1/4 teaspoon) and let it sit for two hours, so all the juices pull out of the vegetables:


Drain well and combine with 1/4 each chopped flat leaf parsley and basil, 1/8 t dried oregano, scant 1/8 t red pepper flakes:


To use as a bruschetta topping, add 1 1/2 T olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. To use as a salad:

Cook rice or pasta and drain/dry well. (This was where I ran into trouble.) Cut up a handful each of cornichons (tiny pickles, yum) and capers:


Smash a handful of black olives to loosen from pits, then chop (this failed completely for me because I was using green olives, which will not release from their pits!).




Make a dressing–1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice–and combine with salad.

Here’s my salad post-dressing on friday morning (much different colors in sun instead of lights!); you can see it getting sticky:


Upon arrival at the camp…GAH, I MADE A (non-)JELLO MOLD!


Help! I pulled that monstrosity apart with a fork, but the damage was done and the texture was shot:

salad bowl

Luckily the rest of the meal was pretty tasty… The asparagus was an annoying combo of very thick and very thin, but tasted good:


If you haven’t tried that, do: toss the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill until tender. Takes about 10 minutes but keep a close eye on it!

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