Let’s forget for a moment that it’s the beginning of January and that we are all making an effort to eat healthier, exercise more, drink less, blah, blah, blah. Forget — because at first glance you might see just another salad.
You’ll think deprivation. And you’ll never know how truly delicious and satisfying this “salad” is. It will pass you by because you’re still in the “I can’t eat the cheeseburger that I really want” mode.
Snap out of it! Because once you try it, the only thing you’ll want is a second helping.
I love the yin and yan of this combination. Sweet, chewy sun-dried tomatoes, crisp-tender asparagus and briny kalamata olives — plus a double hit of citrus. First with sweet orange segments, and next with a tangy lemon vinaigrette.
There’s even brown rice for a hearty chew! This mix has staying power, too! It will last several days in the refrigerator without wilting or looking tired — which is a real boon if you’re responsible for packing lunches all week.
To change it up each day, you could add a little leftover chicken or pork from the previous nights dinner — or even a hard-boiled egg. Garbanzo beans would be good too! Just keep the arugula separate from the salad until you’re ready to dig in.
And think of this as a treat, not a penance. You’re gonna love it!
Other lunch-bucket friendly salads include:
- farro with pomegranate and apple
- cold soba salad
- barley and kale chopped salad
- quinoa asparagus and feta
- grilled vegetables with feta and farro
- green bean and wild rice
- farfalle with pepperoni, mozzarella and broccoli
- lemon-scented chicken and farro
Sicilian-Style Brown Rice Salad
This makes a great side dish with grilled meats or a delicious vegetarian main!
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 pound asparagus spears cut into 1" pieces
- 1/2 cup red onion finely diced
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil well drained
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted, quartered
- 2 oranges peeled and supremed
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
For lemon vinaigrette
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water (4-5 cups) add salt and bring to a boil. Add rice and reduce heat to a vigorous simmer for 25-30 minutes, until rice is "al dente". Strain rice through a sieve and return it to the saucepan. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and let the rice cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, make an ice bath by adding ice and water to a medium bowl, set aside. Fill a small saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add asparagus and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly tender and bright green. With a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to the ice bath to stop the cooking and preserve the bright green color. Drain the asparagus on paper towels.
- In a large bowl combine the blanched asparagus, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and orange segments. Add cooled rice and toss to combine. Set aside.
- In a small bowl combine the lemon zest and juice, garlic, dijon mustard, olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper. Whisk to combine. When emulsified add 3-4 tablespoons of the dressing to the rice salad and toss well. If it needs more dressing, add it 1 tablespoon at a time, so that it's lightly coated.
- Just before serving, add the basil and toss to combine. Serve on a bed of arugula.
If you're packing this for lunch, keep the arugula separate from the salad until you're ready to eat, so it doesn't wilt.