“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by USA Rice Federation and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”
Warm weather has been good to my kitchen, you guys. We have been supremely blessed for the entire past week to enjoy temperatures in the high 60's-low 70's; which has prompted me to leave the windows open all day and do some deep cleaning. My "happy place" has been cleansed from the inside out - and little touches of spring are adding sparkle and sending out an invitation to create fresh, clean dishes that speak of new birth and the beginning of a new season.
As you may have noticed, the past week I've been creating and sharing dishes that feature rice as part of the "Think Rice for National Nutrition Month" Recipe Redux campaign; sponsored by the USA Rice Federation. I've really enjoyed focusing on the versatility and ease of preparation that this wholesome grain has brought to our meals; not the effect on my grocery bill! Rice is so affordable; and the minimal effort required to cook up a large batch goes such a long way in the variety of meals you can make with rice as the backbone of the dish. We've enjoyed rice for breakfast in the Coconut Rice Pudding with Matcha; for an easy-to-pack lunch or vegetarian entree in the Edemame Fried Rice; and today as a gorgeously vibrant entree-sized salad.
This salad really gave me a boost this week as I enjoyed every step of the process of shopping for the colorful ingredients, smelling the refreshing aromas of herbs and citrus as I prepared the ingredients, and then tasting the cleansing flavors of greens, fresh berries, nutty rice, creamy feta, and crunchy pistachios. Feta really is everything when it's marinated in fruity olive oil, refreshing basil and mint, and zippy orange zest. Oh, and don't even get me started on the sweet-tart orange poppy seed dressing - it elevates all of the already mouth-watering flavors of this dish to a level that will make you roll your eyes in bliss over the first bite. It's made with my favorite Cara Cara oranges, and I literally could eat it all with a spoon. Orange poppy seed dressing on everything for me, please!
I chose to try a new rice in this salad and went with a deep red Wehani rice. It's a California-grown variety of long grain brown rice that has a hearty, chewy texture and fresh, nutty flavor. My friend, healthy food like this is the real "soul food." It's elements speak to all the senses and the nutrition a dish like this provides goes such a long way in helping you feel good about what you're putting into your body. I hope you will try it and add your own twist. Remember to snap a pic of your salad and post it to Insta with the tag #sweetcayenne so we can see your beautiful creation!
Strawberry Wild Rice Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing
For the salad:
- 4 ounces feta cheese crumbled
- The zest of 1 Cara Cara orange reserve the orange for juicing in the vinaigrette
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
- ¼ cup fresh mint chopped
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 ½ cups cooked US-grown red wild rice - cooked according to package directions such as Wehani rice
- 6 cups baby arugula about a 5 ounce box of lettuce
- 1 cup diced strawberries
- ⅓ cup roasted unsalted pistachios shelled and chopped
For the dressing:
- Juice from 1 Cara Cara orange about ⅓ cup
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or neutral flavored oil of your choice
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
- Combine the feta, orange zest, herbs, olive oil, and pepper in a small, airtight container. Toss to combine and refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors marry. This would be a good time to cook your rice and let it cool while the cheese marinates!
- Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a mason jar or other sealed container and shake vigorously until thoroughly incorporated. Store in the fridge until ready to use. Dressing will keep up to 3 days.
- In a large salad bowl, add the rice to the bottom, then the marinated feta, strawberries nuts, and finally the arugula to the very top. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss to combine thoroughly. Serve at room temperature.
- **Note: I like to prep these salad ingredients and store them separately in my fridge so I can throw individual servings of the salad together as I need them. This is a great salad to layer in a Mason jar to pack for lunch in the following order from the bottom: dressing, rice, cheese, nuts, berries, greens, and seal with a lid. Dump contents of jar out onto a plate and toss lightly - lunch is served!
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