Monday, 23 July 2012

Rice to the Occasion

Insalata di Riso con Zucchini e Funghi Crudi & Pancetta e Salvia Croccante
Rice Salad with Raw Mushrooms & Zucchini + Crispy Bacon & Sage

Summer is a time for potato salad, for pasta salad and yes indeed for rice salad- but you know what? I don't usually like rice salads so much, not the usual kind anyway. So I decided to try to come up with a version of my own this evening, something a little different and hopefully a little more unusual a flavorful.

I decided to use mushroom and zucchini as the main ingredients and thought that lemon, parsley and sage would be great flavors to enhance them. Oh... and that itsy-bitsy sprinkle of crispy bacon bits too of course. So carry on reading and I will tell you how I made this...

I began by cooking my rice in the usual way- boiling for 10 minutes and then simmering with the lid on, on a minimum flame for a further 10 minutes so that it finished by "steaming". For this dish I used a mix of white and wild rice,  so that it would have a little more "bite" to it. As soon as the rice was done, I added a good handful of very finely chopped parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice and allowed it to sit and continue steaming.

In the meantime, I sliced a small zucchini and a couple of mushrooms as thinly as possible and set them to one side, then chopped a Spring onion and very finely chopped a couple of good-sized sage leaves. That was almost all of the prep work done already!

Next step was to fry a fine dice of bacon in a dry frying pan until it became crispy and brown. Once it was done, I set it to one side and added the sage leaves into the pan and kept the heat relatively high. And I stirred the sage around... soaking up any remaining oil from the bacon, as I went. After 1-2 minutes, the sage is still nice and green but has dried out and begun to get crisper.

Once the rice had cooled down, I began to layer it: rice, mushroom, zucchini, rice, mushroom and zucchini and so on. I made a simple dressing of olive oil, honey, lemon and white balsamico, which I poured into a jar, added salt pepper and a drop of green Tabasco and shook vigorously. I gave a light sprinkle of the dressing on each layer as I put the dish together and added the crispy sage and crispy bacon at the end as a wonderful finishing touch... and it was delicious! Try it... you'll like it!

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