Brown Rice Salad with Jalapenos, Tomatoes, and Avocado

Published July 1, 2013. From Cook's Illustrated.

Why this recipe works:

Brown rice salad often features grains that are gummy or tough, with a dull heavy dressing. We cook the rice using the pasta method, which ensures evenly cooked grains in half the usual amount of time. To season the rice, we dress it with vinegar or citrus juice while it is still warm. We then… read more

Brown rice salad often features grains that are gummy or tough, with a dull heavy dressing. We cook the rice using the pasta method, which ensures evenly cooked grains in half the usual amount of time. To season the rice, we dress it with vinegar or citrus juice while it is still warm. We then add bold mix-ins that contribute contrasting flavors and textures.

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Serves 6 to 8

To make this salad spicier, add the reserved chile seeds.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 recipe Brown Rice for Salad (see related content)
  • 10 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeds reserved, and minced
  • 5 scallions, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. 1. Whisk olive oil, honey, garlic, lime zest and juice, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in bowl. Transfer cooled rice to large bowl. Add tomatoes, avocado, jalapeño, and dressing; toss to combine. Let stand for 10 minutes.

    2. Add ¼ cup scallions and cilantro; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining scallions and serve.

The Benefits of Boiling Brown Rice

When rice is cooked on the stovetop via the absorption method, the grains absorb almost all of the small amount of liquid that’s in the pot early on in the cooking process. This can lead to uneven results, since only the grains that fully hydrate at the start will completely soften, while the grains that didn’t initially absorb enough liquid will remain firm.

We found that boiling brown rice in an abundance of water not only cooked it more evenly but also shaved a good 25 minutes off the usual 50 minutes needed for the absorption method (i.e., simmering the rice in a set amount of liquid). With a large volume of boiling water in the pot (which is drained off when the rice is done), the liquid can penetrate the grains evenly from all sides, so their starches gelatinize more uniformly as well as more quickly. Boiling the rice (versus simmering it) also speeds up cooking because boiling water contains more energy than simmering water. All in all, boiling is an excellent way to cook brown rice.

ABSORPTION APPROACH

Simmer rice, covered, in small amount of water.

COOK TIME: 50 minutes

RESULTS: Uneven. A small amount of water can’t penetrate all of the grains at the same rate.

 

BOILING METHOD

Cook rice in lots of boiling water; drain.

COOK TIME: 25 minutes

RESULTS: Every grain absorbs the same amount of water, so the whole pot cooks evenly.

 

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