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Cool Rice Salad for Hot Days

For days when it’s just too hot to contemplate cooking, it’s good to have some meals on hand that are filling but don’t require actual cooking. The trick with this one is that you have to plan ahead a bit because the two main components do require the hot stove as well as time – well unless the chickpeas come from the can, which is a good idea in a pinch.

I find that following Alton Brown’s method of baking the rice in the oven yields the best brown rice, so I like to take advantage of cooler days to make a large batch and have it ready in the fridge for fried rice or this salad. The amounts here really vary depending on how many people you want to feed but basically you want about an equal ratio of rice to chickpeas.  You can start with dried chickpeas and cook them yourself (don’t forget to soak them overnight first) or just grab 2 cans or so.

Mix the cold rice and rinsed chickpeas and add a bunch of watercress or Arugula, torn into smaller pieces, some pickled red pepper strips, and about 1/2 cup feta cheese, depending on the total amount of rice and chickpeas and how much you like feta.  This is a very flexible recipe, and you can vary the salad to your taste with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, or fresh red peppers, or possibly some steamed squash.

For the dressing, whisk together the juice of half a lemon, a good pinch of Ras al Hanout (a spice mix – you can substitute cumin or some curry perhaps) and olive oil. Toss rice and dressing, let sit for a bit or leave in the fridge for an hour or so. Good for a lighter dinner, pot lucks, and next-day lunches.

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