Pasta salad is nearly ubiquitous at summer gatherings, but can we let you in on a little secret? It usually isn’t very good. There, we said it. Getting the pasta cooked correctly, adding the right amount of dressing, and making sure the ingredients don’t get soggy and sad can be hard, and though some recipes really nail it (like those in Molly Baz’s new cookbook), others just end up a squishy, murky pasta side dish that no one wants to eat. Martha Stewart’s solution? Ditch the pasta entirely, and swap it out for something a little sturdier.
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Stewart’s Rice Salad with Tomatoes, Cuucmber, and Feta is everything we crave as a summer side dish, or even a vegetarian main. It combines long grain brown rice with a medely of fresh summer veggies, herbs, and cheese, with a simple dressing made from sherry vinegar and olive oil.
Unlike pasta, which can get soft and mushy, long grain brown rice can stand up to the extra moisture in a pasta salad, and in fact, soaking up some of that liquid from the veggies, sherry vinegar, and olive oil only makes it tastier.
For aromatics, the brown rice salad includes sauteed onions and garlic. The brown rice gets some special treatment, too – Stewart calls for sauteeing it in olive oil until toasted and nutty before cooking it until tender.
Once the rice is cooked and cooled, you can assemble your salad. Toss the rice and onion mixture with heirloom cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then, fold in freshly chopped parsley and mint, along with some briny crumbled feta. It’s simple, but fresh summer produce is so fragrant and full of flavor, you don’t need any excess.
Stewart’s recipe has the same flavors we love in a pasta salad, and the veggies offer the same cooling crunch we crave, but thanks to the brown rice, this dish is much more substantial and can last a little longer on the picnic table before becoming a disaster. Even better? You can make it a day ahead of time. Just reserve the herbs and cheese, and add them right before you serve. That sounds like a win to us.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below:
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