I love summer. It brings back memories of childhood spent at my grandparents’ house on the beach and pool parties, scavenger hunts, miniature golf, croquet tournaments and big family parties filled with delicious food. I celebrate summer today with BBQs at my own house, marshmallow roasts on our patio, attending my nephew’s baseball tournaments, time spent with friends and the abundance of fresh produce available at the farmer’s market and the grocery store.
But I also love summer because of YARD SALES! We can hardly be in the car for five minutes on a weekend outing without me yelling to Rolland “Pull over! There’s a SALE!” Beyond the crazy stuff I’m always looking for – vintage linens, mid century furniture, old paintings of people and/or dogs, vintage Barbie dolls – I love finding old church and hospital guild cookbooks or boxes and notebooks stuffed with handwritten recipes, items ripped from magazines and newspapers and glued onto index cards. They’re entertaining – who would EAT this stuff?! – and every so often, I find something I want to try out.
This recipe was inspired by one of those recent yard sale cookbook finds – It uses my favorite comfort food – RICE! Give me a steaming bowl of white rice with some butter, salt and pepper, and I’m a very happy guy. I’m constantly looking for new ways to prepare rice, and right now I’m on my salad kick. I also like dishes that require minimal cooking because it’s been unusually hot for a Seattle summer and the last thing I want to do is heat up my tiny, un-air conditioned house any more than it already is. When it gets this hot, I find I want to cool down with something citrus, so to combine rice with citrus is a home run for me.
I streamlined this a bit and made a couple changes from the guild cookbook (a few too may canned vegetables in the original for my taste), and I love the result. The colors are so fresh and vibrant! I like the vintage taste of this with the mayo dressing. It looks terrific served in a big lettuce cup.
You start with 2 cups of uncooked white rice – I use the juice and zest of a lime in this dish, so start with the juice of your lime in your measuring cup, then add water to make 4 cups, add a teaspoon of vegetable oil and cook for 15-20 minutes. You want to cool the rice after it’s done – if you’re using a metal pan to cook your rice in, remember that metal is a heat conductor, so it won’t cool quickly in the pan. Just spread it out on a plate – it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to cool enough to use in the salad.
There aren’t a lot of complicated steps to this dish – HOORAY! – so while the rice is cooling, get out two stalks of celery, three green onions and a large can of Mandarin oranges. I like to use no sugar added because Rolland is diabetic and the sugar in the oranges along with the carbs of the rice is plenty for him, but if you prefer to use oranges in syrup, that’s fine. Drain the oranges really well….
…chop the celery and onions – I like to split the stalk of extra-wide celery and then cut it. When you’re done cutting it up, toss the vegetables into a large bowl with the oranges…
…next you’ll add the cooled rice to the bowl and stir gently to combine. Don’t worry, the oranges are going to start breaking apart as you mix it up. That means you’re going to get that delicious orangey taste throughout the salad rather than in just big bites of orange segments…
…now add 1/2 cup mayonnaise, the lime zest, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and stir everything to combine. You should let this chill at least an hour, but if you’re like me, you’ll already be sampling it before it gets to the fridge…
…just before serving, put the rice in a favorite serving dish and garnish with a little of the green part from the onion – beautiful and DELICIOUS!
ORANGE RICE SALAD
- 2 cups uncooked white rice
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- zest and juice of one lime
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 green onions
- 1 15 oz. can Mandarin oranges
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Put the two cups rice into a saucepan – put the juice of the lime into a large measuring cup then add water to make 4 cups. Cook 15-20 minutes until tender. Pour onto a plate to cool for about 30 minutes.
- Drain the Mandarin oranges well while you chop the celery and green onions, then them all into a large bowl.
- Add the cooled rice and mix it all together gently.
- Add the mayonnaise, lime zest, salt and pepper and mix them gently into the salad ingredients.
- Chill for at least an hour.
- Before serving, adjust seasoning, transfer to a serving dish and garnish with green onion of desired.