This is one of those recipes that gives Ottolenghi’s recipes a bad wrap – lots of ingredients, but even worse, SIX different cooking processes each with its own pots and pans and utensils to be washed, bench to be cleaned. It better be worth it, I thought. It is not a dish for weeknights. And I recommend washing up the pans as you go, even if you have a dishwasher.
First you cook the wild rice, then the basmati, then the quinoa. While they have to be cooked separately, it can be done simultaneously. Then the nuts are toasted and next the onions are sauteed. Finally, all ingredients come together and are dressed. Tarragon is far too expensive here to buy for one salad, so that is omitted.
This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area. I made a couple of changes to the recipe. Ottolenghi uses Sour Cherries, but they are difficult to find locally. I use Barberries, which are easily found in Middle Eastern and Afghani groceries. I also use lime or lemon, whichever is on the kitchen bench. Also, I will swap the herbs out for what is available at the time. I like to keep parsley, but sometimes the heat of Summer gets to the basil, so I might use Thai Basil or lemon balm, or other soft, leafy herb. And rocket will get subbed for baby spinach if that is what I have – I may add a tart element to replace the bite of rocket (e.g. a little raw onion, spring onion, capers, or sour grapes).
Ottolenghi salad recipes are always huge, enough to serve an army. Making a third or half of the recipe is usually enough for four of us. Scale for your own numbers, size of serve, and appetite. This salad is particularly large, even a half recipe will be great for a BBQ lunch for half an army.
So is this salad worth the work? I rarely say this about Ottolenghi’s dishes, but, no. It’s a good salad, even a great salad. But I prefer to make it when I want to use up left over rice, onions and/or quinoa. I sub the wild rice for chickpeas, as wild rice is a reasonably expensive ingredient. Having said that, it does work as is as a dish for a friend’s lunch or BBQ when you only want 1 large, visually pleasing salad to accompany the main course.
It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Rice, Wild Rice and Quinoa Salad With Nuts and Barberries
150 g wild rice
220 g basmati rice
80 ml olive oil
100 g quinoa
60 g almonds, skins on, coarsely chopped
60 g pine nuts
60 ml sunflower oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
30 g flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
20 g basil leaves, coarsely chopped
10 g tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped
40 g rocket or baby spinach
80 g dried sour cherries or barberries
60 ml lemon juice, plus the grated zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt and black pepper
Place the wild rice in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, and then turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for 35 minutes, until the rice is cooked but still firm. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside to dry.
Mix the basmati rice with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place in a saucepan with 330 ml of boiling water, cover, and cook over the lowest possible heat for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, place a tea towel over the pan, replace the lid, and set aside for 10 minutes. Uncover and allow to cool down completely.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add the quinoa. Cook for 9 minutes, then drain into a fine sieve, refresh under cold water, and set aside.
Place the almonds and pine nuts in a small pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a small plate as soon as the pine nuts begin to colour and set aside.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large sauté pan and add the onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper. Cook over high heat for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring often, so that parts of the onion get crisp and others just soft. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Place all the grains in a large bowl along with the chopped herbs, rocket, fried onion, nuts, and sour cherries or barberries. Add the lemon juice and zest, the remaining 3.5 Tblspn olive oil, the garlic, sea salt, and some black pepper. Mix well and set aside for at least 10 minutes before serving.