Brown Rice Salad

I have been wanting to share this with you since I first made it for Easter Sunday dinner.
I know, I know. That was two months ago. I'm working on my follow through.
But I promise, it is better to be introduced to this dish a little late than never.

I found this recipe after searching for vegetarian options for one of my friends joining us for dinner. I thought it was really going to be a shame that she couldn't partake in the roasted chicken and herbed crusted lamb chops.  But she hasn't eaten meat or chicken for over ten years and cut seafood out of her diet two years ago, so I guess she didn't feel like she would miss out on anything.

She could have just eaten the side dishes (macaroni & cheese, skillet asparagus, potatoes au gratin, spring salad) but being the budding hostess that I am, I wanted her to have her own "entree". Except it wasn't hers alone for very long.

Once us meat eating folks had a taste of this salad, there was not much left for the to go containers.  Mr. Foodie and I enjoyed our leftover portion for lunch the next day but I ended up making this salad the following week because it was that good.  Slightly sweet from the dried cranberries, a hint of freshness in each bite from the parsley, crunch from the slivered almonds on top of the use of brown rice, makes this a pleasant healthy alternative.  

So if you want to make something for the vegetarians in your life or are looking for a lunch alternative to the typical sandwich, I say give this "salad" a try. It just might convince you to go meatless. 
Well, at least every now and then.

Brown Rice Salad

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, finely minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 generous teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
1/2 cup raw nuts (I used sliced almonds but feel free to use cashews or peanuts)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 clementine or small orange
extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
salt & pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring until soft and opaque, approximately 3 minutes. Add the garlic to saucepan and season with coriander and pinch of salt, cooking for 30 more seconds

Add the rice, stirring to coat it all with the butter. Toast for another 30 seconds.  Then add water and cook according to directions on the box

While the rice is cooking, lightly toast the nuts in a small, dry skillet. Toss the nuts often to prevent them from burning or turning too dark.  When the nuts are toasted, remove from the pan and set aside in a small bowl.

When the rice is done, pour rice into a large serving bowl and fluff with a fork.  Add the dried cranberries to the rice. Zest the clementine/orange to the rice while the rice is still warm and then add ta little if the juice from the fruit to the rice mixture.  Drizzle the olive oil over the mixture and continue to fluff with the fork. Season with salt and pepper.

The rice is ready to be served warm or at warm temperature.  Add the nuts and parsley and mix in with the rice just before serving. Garnish with some nuts and parsley.

adapted by sevenspoons

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