Thursday, June 08, 2006

Brown Rice Salad

Hooray - the sun is shining! And it's actually hot. Flaming June at last.

I had planned on a salady kind of week when we went to Borough Market on Saturday but Sunday turned into a lazy day - possibly related to the excess of wine I consumed on Saturday night - and things gots a bit out of kilter. I watched The Great British Menu occasionally when it was on BBC2 - a shamefully dull programme, particularly given the amount of talent they had in the kitchen - and was really taken by the food that Atul Kochhar made.

Using many of the same ingredients as the other chefs as his starting point he created a whole other world of food. Being Indian allowed him to see the 'challenge' completely differently as well as being the one chef who most accurately reflected what might be being eaten across the country (though obviously at a statospherically higher level when prepared by him). Seriously, when was the last time you made pan-fried turbot with cockles and oxtail for a midweek supper? But rice, lentils, chicken, curry sauce? Definitely in the repertoire. I didn't get as far as making the tandoori but we did have a wonderfully aromatic pilau rice and with simply roasted chicken with chilli and ginger. The leftover rice was fabulous cold for lunch next day - easily as good as it was hot. All the recipes from the series are in the lifestyles/food section of the bbc website.

Unplanned I also bought two buffalo mozzarella. I buy milk and often bread and yoghurt from Neal's Yard every week and every now and again they have overstocked on something and sell it at a bargain price. This week they were offering bogoff (buy one get one for free) on mozzarella and, having feasted before on this creamy delight I just could not resist. We went to a 6 o'clock screening of the risible Latin American film 'Secuestero Express' on Tuesday so we went home to a quick dinner about 9 o'clock of fennel salami, rocket picked fresh from the garden, crusty bread from Paul and - the highlight even in the midst of such brilliance - a ball of buffalo mozzarella. It was so good, we had the same on Wednesday night after I came home from my french class - c'est parfait and not much washing up.

Today it's grilled pork chops for dinner. They need a couple of side dishes to make a proper meal and given that it is properly hot it has to be salad. The first is one that Georgio Locatelli wrote about in his column in the Guardian last week - simply slow roasting red onions till they're caremalised then mixing them with blanched green beans and oil and balsamic - a pretty sounding dish. Brown rice salad adds substance as well as pleasure. This a great salad, the toasted seeds adding luscious depth and the raw vegetables a kind of jewelled brightness. It's quick, it's cheap, it's probably good for you but best of all it is always a treat.

Brown Rice Salad

250g/1/2lb short grain brown rice
1 tbspn sesame seeds
1 tbspn pumpkin seeds
1 green capsicum, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small can sweet corn niblets

For the dressing
3 tbspns olive oil
1 tbspn roasted pumpkin seed oil (or another of olive oil)
1 tbspn lemon juice
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Cook the rice in salted water for 20-25 minutes till tender but still slightly chewy. Drain and wash with cold water and allow to cool. Separately toast the seeds in a dry pan until golden. Add to the rice along with the vegetables. Mix the ingredients for the dressing, pour over the salad and toss well.

Do try and find roasted pumkin seed oil - bigger supermarkets sell it as well germanic delicatessans - as it really adds another element of flavour to this dish. Not sure what else it could be used for - but I find this is so good it's worth having in the cupboard for this salad alone.

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