Naturally sweet grapes combine with the chewy texture of brown rice and crisp toasted walnuts to make a perfect side salad.
- 2 cups basmati rice, brown
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice (or to taste), fresh
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced or crushed
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar or light-colored honey
- 5 scallions, trimmed (include white and greens)
- 1/2 cup (packed measure) parsley, flat-leaf
- 1/2 pound grapes (red, or a combination of red and green), very fresh, crisp, seedless
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 cup California walnuts, lightly toasted, chopped
- Lettuce cups, for serving (optional)
- Place the rice in a medium-large saucepan and add 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat to the slowest possible simmer. Cook undisturbed for 40 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. If all the water is gone and the rice is still too crunchy, add another 3 tablespoons water and continue to cook for 5 to 8 minutes longer, or until the rice is done. Remove from heat immediately, and transfer the rice to a long, shallow pan, spreading out the rice and fluffing it with a fork to let steam escape. This prevents the rice from overcooking in its own heat and becoming mushy. You want separate grains for this salad!
- In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, garlic and agave or honey, and whisk until uniform. When the rice has cooled to room temperature, add it to this dressing, and stir well until all the rice is coated.
- Cut the scallions into 2-inch pieces, and place in a mini food processor with the parsley. Buzz until very, very finely minced. If you don't have a small food processor, mince the herbs until feathery with a very sharp knife.
- Add the herbs and grapes to the rice mixture, and stir gently with a large fork until everything is pretty much uniformly combined. Taste to possibly adjust salt and lemon, and add some black pepper. Cover tightly, and chill well before serving. (This also tastes good at room temperature, but it does need at least 4 hours in the refrigerator after it's prepared, so the flavors can meld.)
- Stir in most of the walnuts shortly before serving, and sprinkle the rest of them on top and spoon into lettuce cups if desired.