Updated: Apr 26
Sometimes a salad can be the whole meal by itself. These hearty salads are full of grains or pasta, hearty vegetables like mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli, and usually have cheese. Some nights, a wonderful salad and a nice glass (or two) of wine is all you need.
This is one of those hearty salad. It pairs nutty rice, Bhutanese red rice in this case, with earthy sautéed mushrooms, sweet caramelized garlic, the slightly bitter arugula, and a tangy tarragon vinaigrette beautifully. The flavors explode on your palate in this chewy salad. We had it as a light dinner by itself with a deep red Syrah for a wonderful dinner. This is a specialized cookbook filled with absolutely fabulous salads. I was browsing through a bookshop, when they existed, through the cookbook section and found this gem and had to buy it immediately, something I rarely do. The salads are complex, loads of ingredients that are paired uniquely and beautifully, as in this salad. This is a cookbook I had to have, and I highly recommend for any salad lover.
For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.
For the salad
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 head garlic
1 cup Camargue rice, or any wild rice, red rice or brown rice
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons white wine or a generous squeeze of lime juice
A generous handful (or 2) of rocket/arugula
Salt and pepper to taste
For the tarragon dressing:
1 shallot, very finely minced Scant ½ cup sherry vinegar 200ml/7fl oz/scant 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoons chopped tarragon Pinch of salt
To make the tarragon dressing:
Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until combined. Leave to infuse for at least 30 minutes before serving.
To make the salad:
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2.
Cut the tops off the garlic bulbs. Drizzle a little olive oil on the garlic bulb then wrap it in foil and roast in the oven for 30–40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, then squeeze the garlic from its skin – it should come out quite easily almost as a paste. Discard the skins.
Note: Since I am doing this with 1 bulb, I generally throw in a couple of extra bulbs. This roasted garlic is perfect for garlic bread or in scrambled eggs or for any other dish. They last in the fridge drenched in olive oil for quite sometime.
Rinse the rice well under cold running water and cook with a touch of salt following the instructions on the packet. Drain if needed and set aside.
Prepare the wild mushrooms by brushing off any soil and slicing them thinly.
The mushrooms need to be cooked quite quickly, so it’s important not to overcrowd the pan.
To avoid overcrowding, cook the mushrooms in 2 batches. First, heat the butter and a splash of olive oil in a wide frying pan over a high heat. When hot, add the first batch of mushrooms and move them around a bit so they are coated in oil and butter, then cover with a lid for 30 seconds. Remove the cooked mushrooms on to a plate, then repeat with the second batch of mushrooms. Return all the cooked mushrooms quickly to the pan. Add the garlic and white wine and season well with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for a further 30 seconds until all the wine has evaporated.
To serve the salad:
There are a number of ways to serve this salad. For simplicit, you can mix mushroom mixture into the wild rice and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if necessary. Arrange the salad on serving plates and top with a handful of rocket. Drizzle the tarragon dressing on top with extra on the side as needed.
Alternatively, you can toss the rice with the tarragon dressing, salt and pepper, taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Arrange the rice, mushrooms and arugula on the plate in a decorative pattern. Toss well before serving.