Do you ever just want to change things up and make something unexpected for a potluck or cookout? I mean, something other than potato salad or baked beans or coleslaw? Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of all three, particularly potato salad and baked beans, and I’ve no doubt I’ll be making one or both on Father’s Day and July 4th. But, change can be good, change can be fun, and with this salad, change can be refreshing. Nice segue, yes?
I first had this particular salad a number of years ago, and I thought the concept was brilliant. Rice salad? Why hadn’t I thought of that? The closest I ever came to something similar was a shrimp and orzo pasta salad that I dressed with vinaigrette – exceptionally good, I might add. Anyway, red bean and rice salad lends itself to culinary creativity – use your favorite flavor combination and you’ll have a winner.
Red Bean and Rice Salad
1 cup dried red beans
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup minced parsley
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 stalks celery, peeled to remove strings
4 scallions, white and green parts, sliced into small rounds
Pick over beans, and discard any broken ones.
Rinse, and place in a large saucepan.
Add bay leaf and enough water to cover beans by 2 inches.
Bring water to a boil; turn down heat, and cook at a steady simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The cooking time will vary according to the age of the beans. Toward the end of the cooking time, add salt to taste. Let beans cool in liquid; drain when cool, and discard bay leaf.
Cook rice according to package directions.
Once cooked, fluff with a fork, and transfer to a bowl.
Cut cucumber and celery into 1/4 inch dice.
Add to rice along with beans and scallions.
Toss with vinaigrette.
Serve at room temperature.
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Crush thyme leaves between your fingers to release the flavor. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add chopped thyme; whisk well.