This rice salad recipe with beans, lemon and herbs makes an easy, filling dinner

As time went on, our salads become much more lively affairs as my mother experimented with varied greens and vegetables and so many add-ins, such as crisped bacon, grated or chopped cheeses, sesame sticks and nuts. She got into making fruit salads in the 1970s. The U.S. pasta salad craze of the 1980s looms large in my memory, too. Eventually, sometimes the salad was the whole meal.

Merriam-Webster offers this broad definition of salad: “raw greens (such as lettuce) often combined with other vegetables and toppings and served especially with dressing” and “small pieces of food (such as pasta, meat, fruit, or vegetables) usually mixed with a dressing (such as mayonnaise) or set in gelatin.”

One of the things I love about that free-spirited interpretation of what a salad can be is that I often whip up one from what I have on hand. It might have greens. It might not. It might be fruit and nuts. It might be served warm or cold. And, with no boundaries, I’m able to make salads from whatever is in my pantry and refrigerator. Leftovers often find a second life in salads. A few straggler olives (and a splash of the brine from the jar), wilting scallions, past-its-prime parsley with stems and often cabbage, carrots or celery — due to their long shelf life.

That’s what appealed to me about this simple salad from “A New Way to Food” by Maggie Battista. In her cookbook, which describes her journey developing a healthy relationship with food, she calls the dish Italian-Style Leftover Rice Salad, but I’ve renamed it Rice Salad With Beans, Lemon and Herbs just to make it a little clearer from the get-go what is in it.

Battista makes it with whatever leftover rice she might have. Like her, we often have rice with our meals and so there’s usually leftover rice lingering in the refrigerator or freezer. If you have cooked rice on hand, she notes that this salad comes together in about 15 minutes.

It calls for mixed young salad greens, and Battista describes it as “immensely satisfying” due to those greens, the creamy white beans, and the starchy rice.” She sometimes adds canned tuna on top, too.

I couldn’t recall ever making a beans-and-rice salad, but now I know I will experiment with idea, adding it to my weeknight, leftovers and pantry salad repertoire. Maybe you’ll feel the same way.

Storage: Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

NOTE: If you don’t have leftover rice and need to make a fresh batch, the amount of uncooked rice you’ll need to yield 1 cup of cooked rice will vary depending on the chosen rice. For 1 cup of cooked long-grain white rice, rinse 1/3 cup of rice until the water runs clear. Then, place it in a small, lidded saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and stir to coat the rice. Add 2/3 cup of water, a pinch of salt, if desired, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup cooked white or brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon) or red wine vinegar
  • 2 handfuls mixed young salad greens
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 medium sweet white onion (about 4 ounces), peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (9 1/4 ounces) cooked cannellini beans
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • Fine salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

In a shallow skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the rice and saute until just warmed, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Drizzle the lemon juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil along the inside of a large salad bowl. Add the greens, scallions, onion, beans and oregano. Add the rice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Using clean hands or a fork and spoon, gently toss everything together, coating it with the lemon juice and the oil that’s in the bowl.

Taste, and season with more salt and/or pepper, if needed. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Calories: 388; Total Fat: 15 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 163 mg; Carbohydrates: 52 g; Dietary Fiber: 8 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 12 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.






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