Cereal salads: pasta and rice star in newfangled tosses

Although pasta and rice are two of the world's oldest foods, using them as the basis for salads is relatively new. They now show up at restaurant salad bars, elegant parties, picnics, delis, and in lunch boxes, and, in terms of nutrition, fast preparation, and variety, they are tops for the working wife, mother, or both. Combine the interesting shapes and sizes (macaroni, ziti, tortellini, fusilli, rotini, ravioli, etc.) with poultry, meat, seafood, or legumes or fresh, thawed, or frozen or leftover vegetables. The same ingredients work equally well with rice.

For those wishing to control their meat consumption, salads are the answer. For those who must allot their meal-preparation time, these salads can be assembled minutes or hours ahead and refrigerated until serving time. Pasta Chicken Salad 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks 4 cups cooked small shell pasta 3 cups cooked shredded chicken 1 clove garlic, pressed 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/2 cup dairy sour cream 1/2 cup white vinegar 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard 1 teaspoon each basil and marjoram, crumbled 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded, sliced 1 1/2 cups sliced celery 1/2 cup sliced green onion

Drain pineapple. Reserve 2 tablespoons juice. Add pasta and chicken to large bowl.

For dressing, combine reserved juice with next 6 ingredients.

Pour over pasta and chicken. Toss well.

Add remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour, or overnight for flavors to develop.

Serves 6.

Ni,coise Rice Salad With Lemon Dressing 2 1/2 cups water 1 cup converted rice 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil 2 tablespoons vinegar 1 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 2 cloves garlic, minced Crisp salad greens 1 6 1/2- or 7-ounce can tuna, drained and coarsely flaked 3 stalks celery, cut into strips 6 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips 1 cup cut green beans, cooked and chilled 1 cup ripe olives 3 tomatoes, cut in wedges 3 hard-cooked eggs, sliced 6 anchovies, chopped (optional)

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in rice and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover tightly and simmer 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand covered until all water is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

While rice is cooking, combine oil, vinegar, basil, pepper, garlic, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt.

Toss oil mixture with hot rice. Cover and refrigerate. Line salad platter with lettuce. Arrange remaining ingredients around rice. Serves 6. Middle Eastern Brown Rice Salad 1 medium onion, chopped 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 2 2/3 cups water 1 cup parboiled brown rice 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 cup plain yogurt 1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 3 medium tomatoes 1 large cucumber 2 cups diced leftover beef, chicken, lamb, or roast pork Parsley sprigs (garnish)

Saut'e onion in butter in medium saucepan until tender, but not brown. Add water. Bring to a boil.

Add rice and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Reduce heat.

Cover tightly and cook over low heat until all water is absorbed. Spoon into large bowl.

Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Combine yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chopped parsley, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt.

Dice 2 tomatoes. Slice remaining tomato into wedges for garnish.

Cut several slices from cucumber for garnish. Dice remaining cucumber.

Add yogurt mixture, diced tomatoes, and cucumbers and meat to the rice. Mix gently.

Garnish with reserved cucumber slices, tomato wedges, and parsley sprigs. Serves 6.

Note: One cup yogurt or mayonnaise can be substituted for the mixture of yogurt and mayonnaise, if desired.

Pasta Primavera Salad With Mozzarella 1 garlic clove, crushed 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced 1 cup freshly cooked tri-colored pasta 1 cup cubed mozzarella cheese 1 7 1/2-ounce can baby corncobs, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces 1/2 cup carrots, julienne-cut, blanched 1/2 cup cauliflower florets, cooked crisp-tender 1/2 cup halved stuffed olives (optional) Salt and freshly ground pepper

Crush garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt in mortar with pestle. Transfer to small bowl.

Add olive oil, vinegar, oregano, and thyme. Mix well.

Combine pasta, cheese, corn, carrots, cauliflower, and olives in large bowl. Pour dressing over, and toss to mix well.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Pasta, Pinto Bean and Tuna Salad 1/2 cup pasta shells 2/3 cup Italian dressing 2 15-ounce can pinto beans seasoned with pork, drained 1 cup sliced celery 1 7-ounce can tuna, drained, flaked Parsley (garnish)

Cook pasta shells according to package directions.

Drain. Toss with Italian dressing.

Cool to room temperature, then chil in refrigerator.

Just before serving, toss slightly with pinto beans, celery, and tuna.

Garnish with parsley. Serves 6. Greek-Style Pasta, Shrimp, and Feta Salad 12 ounces fusilli 1/2 cup pine nuts 1/2 cup olive oil 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted Greek olives 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley 2 cups cherry tomatoes, stemmed, halved 1 pound medium shrimp, cooked, shelled, deveined 8 ounces feta cheese, diced Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat kettle of water to boiling. Salt water. Add pasta and cook until just firm to the bite.

Drain. Cool under cold running water and drain again.

Toast pine nuts in small skillet over low heat until golden. Transfer pasta to large bowl.

Add oil, vinegar, and lemon zest and toss to coat. Add nuts, olives, and parsley and combine thoroughly.

Gently stir in tomatoes, shrimp, and cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold.

Serves 6 to 8.

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