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Crunchy Vegetarian Brown Rice Salad

Mary Anne here. In discussing new recipes for our blog, Mariel offered to take a stab at creating a recipe for Chinese-Style Tilapia, and given how busy this summer has been, I jumped at the chance to relax a bit and provide a simple side dish for her entree. This is our first joint venture in creating a menu together and I’m excited and proud of my daughter’s growing culinary skills. I just hope the following recipe does my girl’s tilapia justice!

An old and dear friend, Pat, gave this recipe to me over twenty years ago. Pat has always been on the “cutting edge” of food trends and has enjoyed eating healthful foods most of her adult life. She is an incredible home-cook, with a flair for improvisation. Attending her dinner parties always brought the promise (and fulfillment!) of bold and enticing combinations.

While this particular recipe is fairly mainstream today, it still stands out as a wonderful side for fresh fish and poultry or as a light supper served over a bed of fresh field greens. You can add other veggies including bamboo shoots, raw snow peas, fresh pineapple, or toasted, unsweetened coconut, to name just a few.

Crunchy Vegetarian Brown Rice Salad
Serves 10 as a side

Ingredients for the Dressing:
¾ cup fresh orange juice – $0.79
½ cup canola or safflower oil – stock
1 Tablespoon sesame oil – stock
4 Tablespoons soy sauce – stock
2 Tablespoons dry sherry – stock
1 lemon, juiced – $0.67
2 cloves minced garlic – stock
1 Teaspoon grated fresh ginger – $0.19
Salt and pepper to taste – stock

Ingredients for the Salad:
3 cups cooked, cooled brown rice – stock
*Note: approximately 1 cup raw rice, cooked to package directions yields 3 cups brown rice. I under cook it to taste, as I prefer it on the crunchier side. Brown rice should be in your pantry under well-stocked. I was out of it and found a 1lb. bag for 99 cents at Peapod!)
½ cup raisins or currants – $0.49
2 cups scallions, chopped (1 large bunch) – $0.69
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds – stock
1 8 oz. can sliced water chestnuts, coarsely chopped – $0.99
1 cup Mung bean sprouts, drained and rinsed – $1.59
¼ cup toasted peanuts – $0.49
1 large yellow or red pepper, chopped – $1.35
1 stalk of celery, diced – stock
1 small Jalapeno, minced (optional) – $0.70
2 Tablespoons parsley or cilantro, chopped fine – $0.25
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $7.57
Total Per Serving: $0.76

1. In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients; whisk until thoroughly combined. Divide in half and set aside. *Tip: Hold back half of the dressing when combining the salad or it will be soggy. Rice absorbs the dressing and you can add the rest to taste.

2. In a small sauté pan, “toast” the sesame seeds and peanuts over low flame, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Combine the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl. Toss with half of the dressing and garnish with the cilantro or parsley.

4. Serve cold or at room temperature. Add more dressing to taste.