soap salad

We can’t start chatting about this delicious cilantro rice salad without getting into genetics. Yes, cilantro is a controversial herb for good reason: we humans have a genetic disposition determining our cilantro experience. Some of us enjoy its lemony freshness, while others find its flavor uterrly identical to that of soap. Unlike blue cheese or kale or pine nuts, cilantro is not an acquired taste.

Those whose tastebuds insist on such prejudice have joined together on this wacky world web to create I Hate Really, they are an anti-cilantro community; I’m trying not to take it personally.

I picked up this gorgeous grafitti eggplant to accompany a bunch of cilantro and basmati dish. It’s that time of the month when we’re trying to use up all those stock items in our pantry and freezer. And we always have bags of brown and white basmati. We voted on brown tonight, knowing it was better for us and could justify brownie baking later in the evening. If you’re not into brown rice, a textured rice salad like this one really takes rice to another level. This recipe involves cumin and coriander seeds—ingredients I always keep around for my Indian cuisine nights. Since coriander seeds, however, are cilantro infants, I would be curious how the cilantro-haters tolerate this tasty seed?

You’ll find this lovely rice photographed alongside our meat/meatless mains: truly tasty grilled dishes on our (stunning cobalt blue) 12″ cast-iron grill pan.

Warm Herbed Coriander Rice Salad

from Gourmet, serves 4

  • 1 cup long-grain brown basmati rice, rinsed well
  • 1 3/4 cups cold water (use low-sodium chicken broth instead)
  • 3 tablespoons olive/vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, slightly crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, slightly crushed
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (on your microplane!)
  • 2 medium zucchini (1 1/4 pound), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs such as cilantro, parsley, and mint (just used cilantro here)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pecans (2 ounces), toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
This is both a low-fuss and budget-friendly meal. And may I take a moment to mention that Andrew, who has little reverence for zucchini, noted it was a “nice touch” in this dish? You heard it here. 

Bring rice and water to a boil with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes.

While rice is standing, cook coriander and cumin seeds in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and a shade darker, 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic, zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini is crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Toss zucchini mixture with rice, herbs, lemon juice, pecans, and salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, I cut half a medium eggplant into half-inch slices, brushed both sides with olive olive and sprinkled with coarse salt (needed for all the moisture in aubergines). I grilled on a medium-low heat so the slices could cook through. So rich.
Andrew thawed deveined shrimp in cool water for 20 minutes, then brushed with olive oil, salt and fresh pepper before grilling on medium-high. Of course, these crustaceans cooked up in no time—with a golden caramelized skin.
In my humble opinion, it’s really a toss up which is more gorgeous: the color of the shrimp or that spectacular grill pan?
I realize 40-minute rice sounds like quite a time committment on a weeknight, but the simmering time allows just enough opportunity to get all your other things done (switch into slippers, prep the side dishes, turn on some pleasant background noise, pour a nice glass of [preferred beverage]).
While grilling is an efficient way to cook, it’s delicious because of the intense heat caramelizing the surface of your ingredients. If you also have a snow storm in the forecast and can’t get out to your grill—or don’t yet own one of these handy stovetop pans—you can still achieve similar results.
Roasting shrimp and veggies with 1 tbsp olive oil at 450 F is another quick-cooking method for deep flavors. A metal cookie sheet is all you need. (Click here for my 6-minute shrimp.)
More on the brownies later… I’ll tell you how they taste after they’ve cooled (said the cook, counting the minutes).

For my earlier post on Perfect Basmati Rice Every Time, click here.

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Filed under budget, dinners, health

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