Rice & Cucumber Salad with Yogurt & Dill -Cooking Demo

Rice & Cucumber Salad with Yogurt & Dill -Cooking Demo

This next recipe has the weirdest combination of ingredients I've seen so far. 
I've learned that this initial confusion (repulsion?) can cue a surprisingly enjoyable experience. I'm tickled that it worked out this way again. 

The flavor of this recipe is tart, cool, and bright. While it's solid enough to stand alone, using it as a filling for lettuce wraps or stuffing smoked salmon or dressing grilled lamb more than works. 

If you're still unsure about it, Francois (my soon-to-be) says he loves vegetables, but rarely eats them when I cook them. He also doesn't like dill (I adore it). However, he came home to this recipe resting in the bowl and the aroma lured him out of our conversation... and he loves it. I never would have predicted that. 

Cool Rice and Cucumber Salad (page 153)
Serves 4-6
Equipment: 4 bowls (two small), knife, cutting board, small food processor, medium pot, strainer/colander
Time: 1 hour (depending on how quick you chop, if you have help to pick herbs)

Ingredients: 
1.5 cups long-grain white rice
2.25 teaspoons sea salt
2 or 3 cucumbers, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1/4 cup finely finely sliced green onions, including some of the greens
1/4 cup champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup yogurt
Boston or butter lettuce leaves, for garnish

HOW TO USE IN A MEAL
1. On a bed of thick leafy greens as a salad (Boston, butter lettuce leaf, romaine)
2. Wrapped in a lettuce leaf for a carb-free taco or burrito
3. Side dish for grilled lamb or chicken
4. Breakfast with a soft-boiled egg
5. Lunch or snack with toast and goat cheese

NOTES ABOUT INGREDIENTS
1. The greens: the fresher your herbs, the better flavor they have. 

I left out the mint. Most of the time, I don't like mint in dishes because of the rough texture. It can also be too stringent to my palate. Dill is the same for some people, but this dish needs one of the two, so don't skip both.

I think you'll save time by using fresh herbs because you won't have to pick through the bunch for only the good leaves. You'll use about half a bunch of parsley, half a bunch of dill, and half a bunch of green onions. Get kids or helpful friends to pull herb leaves off the stems. 

To save time, I started with only 2 cucumbers. I decided I liked the dish, so I chopped up the third and mixed it in at the end. 

For your remaining herbs, chop them and save them in a jar with olive oil to use later. Do this ASAP to preserve them when they're fresh. 
 
2. Yogurt: Plain yogurt is what you want. Greek yogurt might be good because it's thick and tangy. But nothing sweet. 

For vegan options, try vegan yogurts made with coconut or almond milk. You could also try a vegan mayonnaise with extra vinegar to get the appropriate tartness. 

I used a 125 gram container of yogurt and it was barely under the suggested amount. Get a container that is 150 or 200 grams in weight to ensure you have a full 1/2 cup. 

3. Vinegar: You could use red wine vinegar if that's all you have; just know the color may make your dish look a little brown and unappetizing. There's slight differences in flavors between vinegars, but I recommend keeping champagne or white wine vinegar in your pantry for lighter colored dishes. Note that white wine vinegar is different from distilled white vinegar. 

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a medium pan. Add the rice and 2 teaspoons of the salt and boil until tender, 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, put the cucumbers in a large bowl with the herbs. In a small bowl, combine the green onions, vinegar, oil, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon. 

When the rice is done, pour it into a colander, rinse briefly, then shake off as much water as possible. Put the warm rice into the bowl with the cucumbers, add the dressing and yogurt, and toss gently with a wide rubber spatula. Taste for salt and tartness. Certain types of rice will absorb more vinegar and salt than others. Serve tepid or chilled, mounded on plates and garnished with light green lettuce leaves. 

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