Eating in the summer is different than eating in the winter. We want to use the oven and stove less. We want lighter fare. And when it comes to salads, especially for parties, we avoid mayonnaise dressings that don't travel well and can't be without refrigeration for long.
Enter #CookClub recipe No. 18: Mediterranean Rice Salad.
A grain salad is a boon for summer because it can stand in as dinner and, unlike a dressed green salad, can withstand a few days in the refrigerator. In fact, I think this recipe is even better on Day 2. It can be served at room temperature or cold, but I like the former better.
What makes it Mediterranean are the kalamata olives and feta cheese. You can give it more protein by adding grilled chicken or shrimp, or even a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas. Other suggestions for variations: Stir in chopped fresh basil, parsley or mint. Lemon zest stirred in before serving brightens the flavors.
I'll be curious to see how you tinker. Lots of room for improvisation here.
Join us online!
To participate in #CookClub online, the key is to remember #CookClub because that's how you'll tag everything. You'll have two weekends to make the recipe and post a photo on Instagram with your comments.
Post photos and comments about Mediterranean Rice Salad by 6 p.m. June 22. Some of the photos and comments will be printed June 25 in the Taste section of the Tampa Bay Times.
As part of the #CookClub conversation, join us from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursdays for a live #CookClub chat on Twitter.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8586. Follow @RoadEats on Twitter.
Mediterranean Rice Salad
Post comments and photos on Instagram by 6 p.m. June 22.
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups long-grain rice
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅛ to ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups chopped spinach leaves
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
½ cup chopped green onion
½ cup chopped kalamata olives
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 ½ cups water to a boil. Add ½ teaspoon salt and the rice. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork.
In a large bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, black pepper, pepper flakes, and remaining teaspoon salt.
Add rice to dressing and toss to combine. Add spinach, toss, and let sit until no longer steaming, about 20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or cold.
Serves 6 to 8.
Source: Sunset magazine