Warm Mediterranean Rice Salad

I love this salad! It has the brightness of summer, yet the warm-ness of winter. A perfect combination for a springtime meal. Use it as a side or add chicken on top for an entrée. Serves 3-4.

Salad ingredients:
1 2/3 c brown rice *see note
2 c. loosely packed torn spinach
20 cherry tomatoes halved
2 mini seedless cucumbers, thickly sliced and quartered
2 oz of ricotta salta or feta cheese, crumbled
10 basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
salad dressing (listed below)

1. Cook the * brown rice according to the package. When most of the water has been absorbed add the spinach and cover. Total cook time should be about 45 minutes, adding the spinach doesn’t change the rice’s cook time.

2. After the rice and spinach have cooked, remove from heat and remove cover. You want to allow the rice to cool a little so that it is warm but not hot. While cooling put the rest of the ingredients (except dressing) into a large bowl.

3. Once rice and spinach have cooled a little, add to the bowl and gently toss.

4. Just before serving lightly drizzle with salad dressing. Depending on the texture of the rice you may not need all the dressing. You will want a light coating, but you do not want the salad to look really wet.

*Note* This is a great way to use up leftover rice. To save time, when you prepare rice for another meal, cook extra and set it aside for this recipe. Then steam the rice and spinach together until spinach is wilted, about 10-15 minutes.

Dressing:
Juice of 1 lemon
~ 1/4 c olive oil
1 garlic clove finely minced
1/4 tsp cracked red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl or glass measuring cup squeeze in lemon juice. The amount of juice will determine how much olive oil you need. Wisk the lemon juice, while slowly adding olive oil. When it has emulsified you have enough olive oil. My lemon had a lot of juice, so I needed more oil. Whisk in rest of ingredients tasting as needed. *tip go light on salt until after you have added to salad, you can always add more if needed.

This recipe is a part of Nourshing Gourmet Pennywise Platter. For more information please visit:
http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2011/03/pennywise-platter-thursday-310.html#more-3928

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