This recipe was inspired by one I saw last week near the cherries on display at my local Whole Foods. I read through the instructions briefly as I was shopping, and the salad sounded so good that I decided to spin my own version of it that night. I bought the cherries and the chicken while at the market, then married them up to some cukes, corn and basil from my weekly CSA haul, et voila!
This dish couldn't be easier to pull together, gets even better over the course of a few days in the fridge, and is fairly easy on the wallet. The night I served it my folks were in town, and not only did the kids snarf it right down, but my Dad (who is not exactly a brown rice salad kinda guy) raved as well. Even better, Dad (who is a diabetic) enjoyed perfect blood sugar readings the next morning, a sign of eating a well balanced and healthy meal the night before.
I scored myself some bonus points for that!
This salad was so easy, tasty and affordable that I think I may work it into one of my Cooking Matters classes soon, it would totally rock their world. With its use of lean protein, fruits, veggies, nuts and grains, this salad is firing on all cylinders.
As with all salads of this sort, feel free to add or delete ingredients to suit your fancy, or the contents of your fridge's veggie drawer. As long as you keep the volume of the salad relatively unchanged, the vinaigrette will be sufficient to coat any combo of ingredients you may toss into the mix.
Cheers – Steve
- 1 cup brown basmati rice
- 1 pound organic cherries, pitted and halved or quartered
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 cucumbers, peeled and diced
- 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cobs
- 3 scallions sliced on a bias
- 1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped
- 1 cup finely sliced basil leaves
- 1 large shallot, finely minced and sauteed in EVOO till translucent
- 3 tablespoons EVOO
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Cook the rice by placing a large pot of salted water over high heat to boil. Once boiling, toss in the rice , stir quickly and allow the water to come back to a boil. Lower the flame to keep the rice cooking at a gentle boil, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. At the 30 minute mark check the rice for doneness. If it's ready, pour through a fine meshed strainer and let sit for 2-3 minutes to drain fully, then pour the rice into a large mixing bowl to cool. If the rice is not ready check it again in 5 minutes, it should take 30-40 minutes in total to cook.
- Make a vinaigrette by whisking together in a bowl the oil, vinegar, mustard and cooked shallots. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then pour half into the cooling rice and stir to incorporate.
- Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, then season well with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat a slick of EVOO to almost smoking, add the chicken and cook until well browned on all sides and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and using a slotted spoon, move the chicken to the bowl with the rice.
- Put the pan back on the heat and add the corn kernels, season lightly and cook for just a minute or two, then move them to the bowl as well.
- Toss the diced cucumbers, the scallions, the cherries, the pecans, and the balance of the vinaigrette to the bowl and mix well. Just before serving, add the chiffonade of basil and taste one last time for seasoning, adjusting as necessary.