I often have rice salad on my summer menu. Rice salad is a type of grain salad that can be made with many variations!
We used to make Beef Pilaf Salad back before we changed our eating habits. Occasionally I will still make it like the recipe says but mostly this salad has morphed into a general rice salad that can be made using whatever ingredients I may have on hand at the moment.
Instead of a specific recipe, I now follow a method!
One reason we really like rice salads is that they can easily be a main dish salad and other than cooking the rice and meat, doesn't take extra cooking on a hot summer day. They are nicely transportable and are a good cool meal. In addition, they are wheat-free and full of nutritious veggies and protein!
In the summer, I will make a large bowl of rice salad and store it in the fridge for several meals.
To start you will need cooked brown rice or other grains such as quinoa or millet:
I use around 2 cups usually. If making a huge bowl of salad, you may want more but remember that the grain is the base but not the whole salad. It will bulk up nicely with the other ingredients too.
Next you will choose some protein:
Choices include but are not limited to cooked lentils or other beans, chicken, beef, sausage, shrimp, ham. Some of our favorite salads last summer featured marinated and grilled chicken and beef leftover from grilling nights. Cheese chunks could be good; I don't use them that often as they get a little slimy but that's a personal preference! Use one or more protein choices. We like to make sure there's plenty of protein but you don't need a huge amount. This is a great way to chop up and use that last little bit of roast!
Now add veggies:
The sky's the limit here! Add as many as you like. We like diced cucumbers, sliced cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped celery, diced bell peppers, etc. Leftover cooked and grilled veggies are yummy too! We enjoyed grilled zucchini and yellow squash last year. A little onion adds nice flavor. Clean out your fridge!
You're almost done and I bet it's looking really pretty! But every salad needs a dressing to bind it all together.
Good choices would include: Italian dressing or other bottled vinaigrette, Balsamic Vinaigrette, your own combination of oil and vinegar or our favorite Basic Vinaigrette. Any favorite salad dressing will probably work. I've only used vinaigrette-type so can't say how ranch would taste! Add dressing and mix. If it looks to still be pretty dry, add a little more and mix again until it looks right to you.
Serve right away or chill until ready to serve!
If you like salads and are looking for more ideas for cool summer meals, I invite you to check out this post about salads that we enjoy!