One of my favorite summer dishes is a rice salad my mom used to make as I was growing up. It is not difficult to prepare and ingredients can be changed around to suit any family’s tastes and needs.
It can be prepared in the morning and eaten at lunch, although, I prefer to prepare it in the evening to be eaten the next day. I always liked it better the next day; it seemed as if all the flavors had really the chance to be absorbed by the rice.
It is great to bring to a picnic or large gatherings (just make more of it!).
Prep time: about 45 minutes (plus refrigeration time)
2 cups of rice
4 to 5 cups of water
salt to taste
½ cup sliced pickled pepper rings
½ cup sliced olives (black or green w/ or w/o pimento)
½ cup sliced pickled carrots
½ cup sliced canned mushrooms
½ cup pickled cocktail onions
1 cup cubed cheese (your choice)
2 tbs capers
3 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs olive oil
To be added at the end as garnishment:
2 sliced hard boiled eggs
1 to 2 sliced Roma tomatoes
You can find jars of pickled vegetable mix in your grocery aisles. If you choose to buy those, remember to slice the vegetables as they come in chunks. I prefer to buy the ingredients individually as I found the taste of the vegetable mix too strong for my liking.
If you are Vegan, you can omit the eggs and the cheese (or add Tofu).
Cook rice, according to packaging directions, and hardboiled eggs.
In the meantime, prepare all the other ingredients to be added to the rice.
Once the rice is cooked, drain and rinse under cold water until rice becomes cool to the touch.
Pour the cooled rice in a salad bowl; add lemon juice, olive oil, and all the prepared ingredients; mix well and place in the refrigerator overnight.
If you choose to not rinse the rice (to retain vitamins), let it cool before adding any of the other ingredients.
You can scoop the rice straight out of the salad bowl; however, you can be creative and present it a different way.
Here are some ideas: once the rice is mixed, pour it in a Bundt cake or any other shape cake pan and place in refrigerator overnight (just make sure that the pan is not too big for the amount of rice prepared).
When you are ready to serve, place a plate on top of cake pan and turn it over. Garnish the plate with the sliced eggs and sliced tomatoes (you can also add lettuce leaves, I like Romaine the best).
If you have single serving cake pans or some other type of single serving containers, you can choose to fill them individually. If you are serving directly in the container, you can garnish the top. If you choose to transfer it to a plate (place plate on top of container and turn it over), then you can garnish around the form.