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.