Makes about 6 cups
The anise flavor of fresh fennel bulb and Mexican mint marigold are far more interesting to me than the traditional flavors of celery and tarragon that are commonly found in wild rice salads. Golden raisins, crystallized ginger, orange peel, and lots of freshly chopped Italian parsley also highlight the rice’s earthy, nutty flavor. Blanched and chilled fresh asparagus makes a tasty accompaniment.
• 1 orange
• 3/4 cup golden raisins
• 4 cups cooked wild rice
• 1 pound fresh fennel bulb, tough outer stalk trimmed, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (reserve ferny leaves)
• 1 chopped white onion
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
• 1 bunch chopped scallions with some tops
• 1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
• 1 tablespoon minced gingerroot
• 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh Mexican mint marigold or tarragon, finely chopped
• 3 tablespoons reserved fennel leaves, chopped
• 2 heads of romaine lettuce
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Fresh sprigs of Mexican mint marigold, Italian parsley, or orange and lemon wedges, if desired, for garnish.
1. Remove the zest from the orange in long, thin strips with a zester or julienne by hand and set aside. Squeeze the juice from the orange into a small bowl and add the raisins for plumping.
2. In a large bowl, mix the rice with the chopped vegetables, fresh herbs, orange zest and juice, and raisins. In a separate jar or bowl, stir the ingredients of the vinaigrette together and pour over the rice mixture, tossing to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss again. Allow to sit for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, taste it and add more oil, vinegar, or lemon juice as needed. Pack the rice salad into a bowl; invert onto a larger platter lined with romaine lettuce leaves. Add garnishes as desired. Serve at room temperature.
3. Wrap cloth napkins with ribbons or raffia and fresh stems of rosemary, savory, Mexican oregano, and thyme.
Lucinda Hutson writes and gardens from her home in Austin, Texas. She has written The Herb Garden Cookbook (Gulf Publishing Company, 1998), and her articles on food and gardening appear in many publications. You can order her book by writing Lucinda Hutson, PO Box 300607, Austin, TX 78703 or on her website at www.onr.com/user/lucinda .
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