Tuesday, February 21, 2012

David Lebovitz's wild rice salad

As a member of a winter CSA share, there are certain vegetables I've had to welcome, en masse, into my home (and refrigerator) this season: namely, potatoes (sweet and white), carrots, and beets. Though root vegetables store well, I find it's best to dispatch them quickly, if I want to have room in my tiny kitchen for anything else. So after last week's CSA pickup, when I was saddled blessed with several pounds of each, I decided to immediately peel and roast them, which would not only concentrate their flavor but also significantly reduce their bulk. But what to do with them afterwards? I've already eaten a bazillion sweet potato fries this season, already prepared roasted beets tossed with yogurt, lime and scallions, already made a huge batch of carrot soup that lingers on in my freezer. As my cubed and seasoned veggies roasted away in the oven, the debate continued: where would they end up? Luckily, divine providence stepped in when I felt compelled to read one of my favorite blogs, that of master pastry chef David Lebovitz, who usually shares sweet recipes, but occasionally throws in a savory one. Blessedly, that day was one of those days.

Early in his career, David worked in the kitchen at Chez Panisse, so he knows his way around vegetables. The recipes he shares on his site hew closely to my own cooking style: heavy on the produce and whole grains, light on the meat. So it came as no surprise when his Wild Rice Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing immediately appealed to me. Not only had I recently purchased a big bag of wild rice at the Co-op, but my roasted vegetables would go perfectly in the dish, plus I had just opened a jar of tahini for a hummus-making endeavor.

Actually, speaking of hummus, what attracted me most to this recipe was how it sort of riffs on that classic Middle Eastern spread. The salad's dressing is made of lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, water and raw garlic: if you were to add some chickpeas, you'd have hummus. I love cooking with raw garlic. Growing up, my dad was allergic, so we almost never utilized the stuff, save for rare occasions when my mother--the cook of the household--felt compelled to make a smaller, separate garlic-free dish for my father, and a larger, garlic-heavy one for her, my brother and me. Think about it: a world of tomato sauces, soups, stews, meatballs, all without the beneficent touch of garlic. Sad, right? These days, I think I still cook with less garlic than most people, and to add raw garlic to something feels downright illicit. So this recipe, with its whole one clove of garlic, minced, was damn near a walk on the wild side for me.

I made a few small changes to the dish, the major one being that to further embrace the hummus theme (and because I still had some left over from the Great Garbanzo Soak of 2012), I added a few handfuls of cooked chickpeas. What results is a lovely salad: the wild rice dense and chewy, the roasted vegetables sweet and earthy, with brightness from the lemon and garlic. Not a bad lunch to eat for six days in a row, as I did:

Wild Rice and Roasted Vegetable Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing

Adapted from davidlebovitz.com
Serves 6 - 8 as a side dish


- 1 c. wild rice, rinsed
- About 6 cups peeled and cubed root vegetables: I used a mix of sweet potatoes, beets, and carrots
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- About a cup cooked chickpeas
- 3 to 4 scallions (white and green parts), finely chopped
- 1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 c. tahini
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 3 tbsp. warm water
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Toss the vegetables with 2 or 3 tbsp. of oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Spread on a large baking sheet (or 2) and cook until tender, about 40 minutes.
2. In the meantime, add wild rice to a medium pot and cover with lots of water. Add about a teaspoon of salt. Cover and bring to the boil then drop to a simmer and cook until rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Drain.
3. As rice and vegetables cool, make the dressing: in a medium bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice and water, stirring briskly to smooth out the tahini. Whisk in soy sauce and olive oil, season, and taste.
4. When rice and vegetables are cool, combine in a bowl then stir in the chickpeas, scallions and parsley. Add the dressing and mix well. Note: the tahini dressing dries out in the fridge. If you're not eating all the salad at once, store salad mix and dressing in separate containers in the fridge and combine them before serving.


gideon said...

this looks delicious, but we don't have wild rice in sunndal. my next best bet would probably be brown rice, right?

Lauren Rothman said...

Yup, that would work fine.