At first glance, this white rice salad from Rebecca Lang's Around the Southern Table looks a bit one-dimensional. Take steamed white rice, golden raisins, pine nuts, and scallions and toss with a bit of oil and vinegar—you'll have a decent salad but nothing out of the ordinary. But Lang's version is more than just a simple grain salad. The potent mixture of a lemon's zest and its juice whisked together with a touch of orange juice and a drizzle of sweet and tangy white balsamic soaks effortlessly into the hot rice, plumps the raisins, and tempers the bite of the scallions.
Why I picked this recipe: A rice salad seemed like the perfect second side dish to accompany this week's lowcountry boil.
What worked: The vibrant citrus dressing is a perfect accompaniment to the rice, raisins, and pine nuts. The salad tastes great at room temperature and cold the next day.
What didn't: Lang doesn't offer directions for cooking the rice itself; instead she defers to the package directions. Since this is a salad, be sure to rinse your rice before cooking to keep the grains distinct and fluffy, and cook the rice in 2 1/2 cups of water.
Suggested tweaks: If you can't get your hands on Carolina Gold long-grain rice, another long-grain white rice will work just fine (I used California Basmati).