That brown basmati rice is almost finished! There's probably enough for one more meal, and I must say the more I eat it, the more I like it. I am still alone in this view though...
This salad is served at room temperature, with the hot chicken breast sliced on top. Cucumber, roasted red pepper, toasted almonds, feta cheese and lime juice are added to the rice to make the salad; the chicken breast is seasoned with cumin before cooking.
The vegetables added crunch, so did the almonds and pomegranate seeds; the lime juice added some acidity and also brightened up the rice while the feta cheese added the salt needed for the rice, which can tend to be bland if not well seasoned.
As for what I used up, besides the rice? A red pepper that was losing its crunch, half a cucumber, half a can of garbanzo beans that were in the freezer, the last piece of feta cheese and 2 previously zested limes.
1/2 cup brown basmati rice, using the absorption method (see the post Rice for more information).
When the rice is cooked, add :
1/2 can garbanzo beans
Cover the rice and beans, turn off the heat and allow them to steam for another 5 minutes. Remove from the pot, and allow to cool to room temperature.
Place the red pepper directly over the flame if you have a gas stove. It can be done in the oven if you don't have a gas stove.
Keep turning the pepper as it chars and blackens. When all sides are black, remove the pepper from the flame and place into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave the pepper to steam
When the pepper is cool enough to handle, rub the charred skin off, and rinse it under cold water to remove any residual black bits. Cut the pepper open and remove the seeds. Dice and set aside.
In a dry pan, toast some almonds...
...and then roughly chop them, and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine:
1 1/2 cups diced cucumber
The diced, roasted red pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Add the rice and garbanzo beans to the vegetables, and stir gently to combine.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remember that the feta cheese will add a lot of salt.
Add more lime juice and/or olive oil if you feel the rice is too dry.
Season 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts with salt, pepper and ground cumin.
Cook in a hot pan, with a drizzle of olive oil.
When the chicken is cooked, remove from the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before thinly slicing.
To serve, place a portion of rice and vegetables on the plate. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese, pomegranate seeds and the toasted almonds. Place the sliced chicken breast on top.
- I am including a link that explains how to roast red peppers in the oven. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-red-peppers-recipe.html
- Roasted red peppers can also be purchased in jars or cans; these don't have as much flavour as freshly roasted peppers, but are a good substitute when you are short of time.
- The peppers can also be left raw, and diced along with the cucumber. This will add even more crunch to your salad, and some extra sweetness.
- Green onions, or fresh chives would be a nice addition if you have them. Other herbs such as cilantro, basil or fresh oregano can also be added.
- Use lemon juice if you have no limes. If you would rather use vinegar as your acid, try apple cider vinegar.
- The salad would be a good use for leftover rice. It can be heated up, or left cold. Brown rice has a slight crunch, and a nuttiness that works really well with the vegetables.
- Alternatives to rice are couscous, quinoa, bulgur wheat, orzo or barley.
- The garbanzo beans are optional; they can be omitted or replaced with any other beans...black beans or edamame are some other options to try.
- The chicken can be omitted; with the beans and cheese you have a complete meal. If you do want the meat, use any meat you have available...pork, beef, lamb, fish.
- Serve the salad on a bed of greens such as fresh or wilted spinach or kale. Use it in a lettuce or tortilla wrap.
- Pomegranates are in season right now, and add colour, crunch and Vitamin C as well as potassium. Diced mango, red grapes or fresh berries can be used instead.