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[Photograph: Jennifer Davick]

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).

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Around the Southern Table to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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