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This is summer…or in this case, late spring, on a plate.  It’s perfect for lunch or dinner, and can go main course by adding some shrimp or tuna.  Use whatever beans you have in your cupboard, but garbanzo or kidney are my favorite for this salad. I like rice salads.  They are a nice change of pace from the pasta salads I grew up with.  I like those, too, but this is a welcome change of pace.  I think I prefer rice in a salad to any other way of eating it.  And this one, goes together in flash and has some really vivid flavors.  I only make this salad when I have fresh fennel.  It’s a must for me.  And I like to include some of the fronds, too.  I also like artichoke hearts, but not this time around.   I used a can of mixed beans that was lurking in my pantry.  They were good, but the texture was different than garbanzo beans would have been; they were creamier.  The herbs can be added or sprinkled on as a garnish.  But, the goad is to have just a hint, but use the mint.  It’s lovely.  And if you have lemon balm in your garden, use it.  I like the spicy aspect it brings.  The creamy dressing is not at all heavy and while there is garlic, it’s not over-powering.  The last time I made this, I add a couple of wedges of Preserved Lemons.  I quite liked it, but they do give it a sharper bite, than without.

To make this, you need a bowl.

Put everything for salad in that bowl, toss it.  In another little bowl, you stir together the dressing ingredients.  Add that to the larger bowl, stir until the dressing coats everything.  Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes, to all the flavors to wander and mingle.  Serve as a side salad.

Mediterranean Rice and Bean Salad with a Creamy Dressing

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Moderately Easy
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  • Salad:
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo, rinsed and drained (or beans of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (basmati or jasmine are particularly nice)
  • 1/2 cup very finely minced red onion or scallions
  • 1 smaller tomato, very finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup very finely minced fresh fennel bulb
  • 1/3 cup very finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup very finely minced sweet bell pepper (I use Little Sweetie™ peppers)
  • Juice of 1 small lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup chopped olives (I use a mix of black and green)
  • 1 teaspoon very finely julienned fresh orange mint (or regular)
  • 1 teaspoon very finely minced lemon balm (optional, but delicious)
  • Two large pinches kosher salt (you may need more)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use “light”), or Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons your best flavored olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, grated (no more than 1/2 teaspoon)

Combine all the salad ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.  Toss gently, until well combined.

In a separate small bowl, stir the dressing ingredients together until very well combined.  Pour over the salad; toss to combine.  Best if made at least 30 minutes before serving; let stand.  Stir and serve.

NOTE:  If the rice wasn’t cooked with salt, you will need more than a couple of pinches.  I have used fresh basil, but I found it was a bit too much.  But, if you’re a fan, go for it.  To make this a complete meal, you may add chopped cooked shrimp or flaked tuna.

Mediterranean Rice and Bean Salad with a Creamy Dressing Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020.  All rights reserved.