This salad from Yotam Ottolenghi's newest cookbook, Plenty More, has a lot going on and everything going for it. The mix of grains—white basmati rice, wild rice, and quinoa—is beautiful and texturally interesting; per his cooking times and methods, they are left with just a bit of firmness and keep their integrity once dressed. Almonds and pine nuts add toasty crunch, while dried sour cherries add chew and bursts of tart sweetness. Ottolenghi fries onions "...so that parts of the onion get crisp and others just soft" (it's this attention to detail that sets his recipes apart), and they weave themselves silkily through the salad. There's just enough verdant, spicy arugula to brighten things up, and the fresh licorice flavors of basil and tarragon perfume the mix. Tossed with lemony, garlicky dressing, every bite is fairly dazzling.
Why I picked this recipe: Grain salads are a fave, and I figured Ottolenghi would hit it out of the park.
What worked: This is a heady, multidimensional bowlful—a winner.
What didn't: All good!
Suggested tweaks: Per Ottolenghi, dried cranberries soaked in a little lemon juice may be substituted for the dried cherries if need be, and he notes that the salad can be kept overnight in the fridge, though it needs to be room temp and re-seasoned before serving. (Because I'm impatient, I was trying to knock the chill off a bowl of leftovers in the microwave, and went just a few seconds too far, to where the salad was barely warm. It was delicious this way, as well!!)
Reprinted with permission from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London's Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.
- Scant 1 cup/150g wild rice
- Scant 1 1/4 cup/220g basmati rice
- 5 1/2 tbsp/80ml olive oil
- 2/3 cup/100g quinoa
- 6 1/2 tbsp/60g almonds, skins on, coarsely chopped
- 7 tbsp/60g pine nuts
- 1/4 cup/60ml sunflower oil
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 3 cups/320g)
- 1 cup/30g flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
- 2/3 cup/20g basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup/10g tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups/40g arugula
- 2/3 cup/80g dried sour cherries
- 1/4 cup/60ml lemon juice, plus the grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Salt and black pepper
Place the wild rice in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, and then turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for 35 minutes, until the rice is cooked but still firm. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside to dry.
Mix the basmati rice with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place in a saucepan with 1 1/3 cups/330ml of boiling water, cover, and cook over the lowest possible heat for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, place a tea towel over the pan, replace the lid, and set aside for 10 minutes. Uncover and allow to cool down completely.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add the quinoa. Cook for 9 minutes, then drain into a fine sieve, refresh under cold water, and set aside.
Place the almonds and pine nuts in a small pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a small plate as soon as the pine nuts begin to color and set aside.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large sauté pan and add the onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper. Cook over high heat for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring often, so that parts of the onion get crisp and others just soft. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Place all the grains in a large bowl along with the chopped herbs, arugula, fried onion, nuts, and sour cherries. Add the lemon juice and zest, the remaining 3 1/2 tbsp olive oil, the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some pepper. Mix well and set aside for at least 10 minutes before serving.