by Elena Tsonos, blogger
(Courtesy of nytimes.com)
When most people think of a salad, they probably think of a cold array of mixed vegetables coated in creamy or oil-based dressing. While a salad can in fact fit this description, it is most definitely not limited to this precise definition. That’s right, a salad isn’t only vegetables—and it’s not limited to vegetables, meat, cheese, and croutons either. If all of the salads that you eat fit this description, then you must be bored. A salad can be so much more than that same old romaine lettuce with shredded carrots and vinaigerette dressing that you toss up without giving it a second thought. Why not mix it up a little by adding in some vegetables that you don’t eat on the regular, interesting herbs, and a grain healthier than those high sodium croutons?
Today’s featured recipe puts a complete spin on what you might label the traditional salad. “Thai-Style Sprouted Rice and Herb Salad,” featured by Martha Rose Shulman in a New York Times article this month, challenges recipe-seekers to go beyond their local awareness of the “traditional” salad. In fact, Thai-Style Sprouted Rice and Herb Salad makes use of a variety of herbs that most people probably wouldn’t think to toss into their salad- all while adding only a few calories! Such herbs incorporated in the salad include mint, fresh sweet basil leaves, and cilantro. In addition, the salad also makes a unique use of grain; instead of including processed and refined croutons, the salad includes brown sprouted rice, which is a whole grain and will keep your stomach more full for longer. (For readers who aren’t familiar with sprouted brown rice, it is similar to regular brown rice and takes about the same amount of time to cook, but it is sweeter, a little less chewy, and has an increased nutritional value by making nutrients more bio-available. It can usually be found in natural food stores.) The salad also incorporates a few other ingredients that you might not normally reach for, like watercress. Click ahead to read the recipe!
Thai-Style Sprouted Rice and Herb Salad
- 4 cups cooked sprouted brown rice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 cups tightly packed, coarsely chopped watercress leaves, baby spinach, arugula or a mix
- 1 1/2 cups edamame
- 1 sweet red bell pepper, cut in thin 2-inch-long strips
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
- 1/4 cup tightly packed fresh Asian or sweet basil leaves, or tarragon, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
- 1 shallot, cut in thin rings, soaked for five minutes in cold water, drained and rinsed; or 1/4 cup finely sliced scallion (optional)
- 1 teaspoon finely minced lemon grass from the tender inner part of the stalk
- 1 bird or serrano chili, minced
- Leaf lettuce for serving
- 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar, turbinado sugar or dark agave nectar
- 1/2 teaspoon minced lemon grass, from the tender inner part of the stalk
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried red chili
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1. Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Combine the fish sauce and water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon grass, garlic and chili flakes, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure the liquid does not boil down. Transfer to a bowl or measuring cup, and whisk in the canola oil and lime juice. Toss with the salad.
3. Line a platter with lettuce leaves, top with the salad and serve.
If you want to prepare this salad, you will need to plan ahead of time, because you probably won’t have all of the ingredients on-hand. The salad is a must-try, incorporating a variety of flavors including sweet, salty, spicy, menthol, and savory. Together, the sprouted brown rice and edamame make a complete protein, so this salad is an adequate alternative for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. If you don’t mind taking more than a quick glance at the leafy greens section in the supermarket, I suggest that you buy watercress; it is most likely a green that you’re not consuming on the regular and adds a hot peppery taste to the salad, much like radishes. If it proves difficult to find bird chili, serrano chili is a fine substitute; however, avoid opting out on using chili altogether, because it adds necessary fire to the salad. In addition, the lemongrass adds a refreshing taste with a hint of ginger, and complements well with the chili, cilantro, and also the garlic used in the dressing. Adding to the dressing’s use of garlic, it also contributes an array of flavors that come together in an interesting combination. Ultimately, it is the lime juice that brings the salad together for a spicy and delicious meal that is balanced. When you’re done eating this salad, your appetite will surely be satisfied; I’m nearly drooling just describing it!
Don’t forget to try out the recipe and to comment back here to let me know what you thought of the salad.
Mix’n Elena says, “It’s all in a day’s mix!”