It’s hot. It’s hot. It’s hot. Yes, I know it is the middle of July in Louisiana, but it is HOT. With the heat index it reached 107* today. In fact, my phone alerted me twice today with the heat advisories. Which, by the way, according to WAFB heat is on average the #1 weather related killer. No need to tell me twice to remain inside and stay cool.
I like to stay cool in the kitchen, too. So when I noticed we had leftover rice in the fridge, I knew immediately, I would make one of my favorite make ahead meals for lunch tomorrow–Rice Salad. If ever there was a TO COOK IS TO CREATE recipe, this is it. It can be made with virtually any leftover vegetables, salad or sandwich fixings, and cheese. So when I decided I was making this salad, I also decided to share it with you again just in case it is as hot where you are and you want a oven and stove free easy meal.
The following was originally published on July 3, 2015:
Happy 4th weekend. We are fortunate to be at our cabin overlooking the Black Mountains in North Carolina. Many days here on the ridge are breathtakingly beautiful and other days are beautiful in their own way…the socked in by fog days. Today is one of those days. Can you see the fog coming in on my little chipmunk friend trying to get in his quick lunch? To me, there is something magical about being surrounded by clouds and the wonderful “excuse” to have to stay put. A nice change of pace for this hurried world. A wonderful time to read a book, (write a blog!!), play a board game-I have to admit I am looking forward to a game of CLUE after lunch, or to just relax and renew.
My cooking style here at our cabin is somewhat adventuresome on days like this. When you can’t get out for food, you can get creative! Lucky for me, one of our last guests left some rice. They were from Louisiana, too, so no doubt for a big pot of Gumbo! Today the rice will become our lunch. (Doesn’t look like much now, but wait!)
We got a chance to grill last night so I have some leftover grilled zucchini and a few salad fixings, so lunch today will be Rice Salad.
Leftover Rice Salad: A quick and easy 3-step lunch great for using up leftover vegetables and salad fixings. I used leftover grilled zucchini, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and feta cheese. I like to pack mixture into ramekins, but that is an optional step. The rice salad can be enjoyed stuffed in a tomato or pita bread or enjoyed over a bed spinach or lettuce.
I love a rice salad over a bed of spinach, so I make a small bed on top of rice mold before inverting.
Lunch is served.
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: What vegetables do you usually have leftover? What flavors would accompany each other well? Black olives would have been tasty today or grilled pepper, or both! What protein can you add? Rotisserie chicken always good. Have leftover stir fry veggies? Add peanuts and replace the salt and pepper with soy sauce for the dressing and serve over cabbage. What about a Mexican rice salad with black beans, corn, jalapenos, jack cheese with a salsa vinaigrette? Just add some salsa to the dressing! Don’t be limited to white rice for a salad. Nuts and dried fruits are delightful with wild rice.
FOOD FUN: How about substituting rice for pasta in your favorite pasta salad? How about using rice instead of potatoes in your potato salad recipe, especially German Potato Salad, warm rice is wonderful! Think of rice like a sponge in the way it absorbs flavors. Have fun in the kitchen with rice. Get creative. After it is planted, it takes an estimated 105 days before rice is ready to be harvested…a little different from those convenient microwave rice packs…don’t let them go to waste!