This dish came about because of my children, not because it is one of those dishes I knew they would love. Quite the opposite, I made this dish fully aware that it will be several years before either of my boys decides to eat this. However thanks to them and their pickiness I had 2 cups of leftover rice in the fridge. I committed the cardinal parenting sin of preparing a new type of rice, which both boys immediately refused to eat. I wasn't worried about it, they made do with the other options for dinner as Lewis and I happily ate the volcano rice, enjoying the different grains each with its own taste and texture. For the record, the second time I made the rice they liked it, which was faster then I was expecting.
The idea to use the leftovers in Tabouli salad came when I was picking herbs at my CSA on one of the many oppressively humid, hot days this summer that has been making everyone cranky and squinty. The herb field has zero shade and the curly parsley was the first parsley I came to. Standing in the parsley patch I quickly decided to make tabouli for dinner, as a sudden tasty sounding way to excuse picking curly when I usually prefer flat leaf. Now it wasn't laziness, it was a meal plan.
Once I decided not to use the traditional bulgur wheat base (or the boxed mix my mother relied on) I decided to play a little by adding toasted hazelnuts. The resulting salad was light, flavorful and delicious, enough so that I made it again 3 days later, even though I no longer had any tomatoes. The second time around I gave the leftovers to one of my neighbors, who requested the recipe when he returned my dish. Then told me to start typing when I told him I planned to post it here.
Wild Rice Tabouli Salad (or should that be Tabbouleh?)
Most of the vegetables are listed as optional because I don't want you to put off making it because you are missing some of the vegetables listed. Just chop and add in whatever vegetables you have so there is more texture and flavors in the salad
2 cups cooked rice, preferably a wild rice blend or other whole grain rice (I used volcano rice)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (if you put your lemons in the microwave on high for 50 seconds first you will get more juice)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt (if your rice is not already salted increase salt to 1 tsp)
1/2 cup finely chopped curly parsley (it is really important to finely chop the parsley)
2 - 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (optional)
1 cucumber peeled, cut lengthwise into 4 pieces and then seeds removed, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup hazelnuts briefly toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant and then coarsely chopped
1 red, yellow or orange pepper seeded and chopped (optional)
1/2 cup chopped scallions or baby onions chopped fine
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Mix all the ingredients and stir well. Top with feta if using. Either serve immediately or allow the flavors to mellow and blend in the fridge for half an hour first.