Rice Vermicelli Salad

I never paid much attention to the ubiquitous pink pickled onions dotting the tables of many Indian restaurants in the west. I was taken aback once when I was asked about this “iconic” condiment by an eager gourmand. Embarrassed by my bias, I was determined to bring it center-stage.

Flash pickled onions in white balsamic is what puts this otherwise plain salad over the top. The white truffle oil only gilds the lily. You will be surprised by how well the simple ingredients come together in this tangy-sweet, sharp, bright salad. Enjoy!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

None.

INGREDIENTS

  • Rice:
    • 1 cup brown basmati
    • 1/2 cup loosely packed broken vermicelli, dry pan-toasted till golden brown
    • cooking liquid: 1/2 cup champagne + 1 1/2 cup water
    • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pickled onions: 2 cipollini onions, thinly sliced and soaked in 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar + pinch salt, for 15 minutes
  • Dressing: 3 tbsp (white truffle) EVOO
  • Greens: 1 1/2 cup loosely packed baby red Russian kale
  • Nuts : 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • Topping: micro greens (optional: shaved Dill Havarti)

METHOD

In a pot, place the rice and the cooking liquid. Simmer on low-medium for 15 minutes. Add the toasted vermicelli, mix and cook for another 15 minutes. Turn off heat and fluff the rice. [Adjust with the cooking time of the rice of your choice, by adding the vermicelli at the mid point]. Season with salt and pepper while the rice is still warm.

To wilt the greens, fold in while the rice is still warm.

Drain the shallots and reserve the liquid for the dressing. Make a light dressing with the reserved liquid and EVOO. Mix shallots and the nuts in the rice, when slightly cooled.

Dress the salad and serve (cold or at room temperature) with the topping. 

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. Champagne can, of course, be replaced by your favorite dry white wine if you don’t want to exhaust your precious bubbly.
  2. Notice that there are two layers of greens in this: the wilted greens and the topping greens. This is deliberate to contrast the texture and sharpness of the two classes.
  3. The creaminess of Havarti contrasts well with the chewiness of brown rice.
  4. Shallots is a good substitute for cipollini. Even regular onions- just slice it very thin.
  5. Additional greens like baby spinach, arugula is also welcome.
  6. The combination of fragrant rice, nutty vermicelli and almonds is a Persian inspiration. Albeit, without the brown butter (ghee).