Guys, I have a new obsession with grain salads. I can’t get enough of them lately. I know, green salads are literally one of the healthiest choices you can make when it comes to food, and I do try to eat them, I really do, but there are just some days when the prospect of lettuce for lunch just sounds like a complete and utter snore fest. There. I said it. Sometimes lettuce is just plain boring. Does anyone else feel me on this?
But when you swap out lettuce for a unique ancient grain like this nutty, earthy Bhutanese red rice as the base for your salad, now that’s a game changer, isn’t it? There’s nothing boring about an exotic heirloom grain- black rice is my jam right now too- and don’t worry, there’s still plenty of room for fruits, veggies and lean protein in this stunning summer salad.
With its Indonesian inspired flavors (mango, peanut, fish sauce) and fresh, spa-like ingredients (cucumber, avocado, scallion) this is the sort of dish I like to picture being served to me as I lounge beachside at a Balinese resort. Go ahead, I’ll give you a moment to picture yourself in that idyllic little scene, too…
Seriously, though, imaginary Bali vacations aside, it is just as perfect scarfed down with chopsticks in your living room at 5 pm, like a little mini getaway in itself.
Red Rice Mango Salad with Chicken & Peanuts
- 1 cup red rice
- 2 tbsp. grapeseed or vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- 2 tsp. agave nectar or honey
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium ripe mango peeled, pitted and diced
- 1/2 cucumber thinly sliced
- 1 avocado diced
- 2-3 scallions thinly sliced
- 1/4 peanuts roughly chopped
- Bring rice and 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Season lightly with salt. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20-25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, until cooled to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing and cook the chicken. Combine grapeseed oil, lime juice, fish sauce and agave, whisking to combine. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Melt coconut oil in a skillet over moderately high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and cook for about 5-6 minutes per side, flipping once. Remove from heat, let stand for 5-10 minutes and cut into 1-inch cubes.
- Combine rice, chicken, dressing, mango, cucumber, avocado, scallions and peanuts in a large salad bowl. Toss gently and season to taste. Chill for at least one hour before serving.