Let's call it The Headache That Negatively Impacted My Appetite. A dull, throbbing pain emanated from behind my left eye and spread across the top and sides of my skull. Never sharp or searing, it didn't interfere with more test driving this weekend (the Volkswagen Golf TDI is the current leader) but the pain was just unpleasant enough to make me feel sick.
Sunday night I scraped myself off the couch — cranky noggin be damned — and scrounged through kitchen, searching for something edible that was light, easy, and wouldn't require a run to the grocery. The result: rice salad with fresh herbs, a simple dish that I often serve as a side in the summer.
Rice salad variations are endless, but I rely on a squeeze of lemon, minced shallots, a few ounces of good extra virgin olive oil, and freshly chopped herbs to produce a lovely summer side dish (or a light meal for those who aren't feeling well). To feed healthier appetites add a few cooked peas, chopped steamed asparagus spears, chicken, or shrimp. Use any long-grain rice you'd like — I often have basmati or jasmine in the cupboard.
My friend Jeanne taught me to cook rice like pasta, in a large pot of boiling water. This method ensures fluffy, individual grains that don't stick together. Give it a try.
Rice Salad with Parsley, Chives and Mint
Makes 3-4 side servings
1 cup long-grain white rice
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 shallot, minced
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley, chives and mint
Fill a large stockpot with water, add a pinch of salt, and bring it to a rolling boil. Add the rice and cook until just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve, then spread the rice on a baking sheet to cool.
Put the lemon juice and shallot in a bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil, creating a vinaigrette.
Place the cool rice in a medium bowl and fluff with a fork or your fingers. Judiciously dress with the vinaigrette — you don't want to drown the rice. Sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs just before serving, tossing well to be sure the herbs are evenly distributed. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary.