Tired of the usual pasta salad? Why not get creative with Pesto Rice Salad, full of flavorful dried tomatoes, crunchy pine nuts and chunks of fresh mozzarella. Good warm or cold.
Lately I’ve been cooking a lot with rice. A side dish here, some stuffed peppers there… And it all comes from eating local this year.
Now when people toss around the term “eating local,” they do it almost as freely as the word “natural.” But we’re eating completely local (with just a few exceptions), which means no pasta unless it’s made by a local company using local flour.
Now truthfully, I’m not really a pasta salad kinda’ gal in the first place. I think I was served one too many bland pasta salads in my youth.
But luckily, I have a nice stash of local rice – which is amazing in a side salad!
My first was Brown Rice Salad, with Sweet Potatoes & Cranberries. And the second is this Pesto Rice Salad, thanks to the pesto I freeze every summer for a winter pick-me-up.
Today’s recipe includes “prepared pesto” because many people have their own favorite recipe. But if you need one, check out mine here. That recipe is for an arugula pesto, but it can be made with the classic basil as well. I’ve even made pesto with lemon balm and cilantro!
Yup, go wild!
Now in the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you that my husband and I have a big disagreement about both of these rice salads. I prefer them chilled, and he likes them warm. We finally agreed to disagree — you can take your pick too!
- 6 - 8 ounces asparagus
- 4 cups cooked brown rice
- ½ cup dried tomatoes (in oil or rehydrated, drained)
- 1 cup prepared pesto
- ¼ cup extra oil for mixing (if needed)
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella (see note)
- ¼ cup pine nuts (or any other nut)
- Steam asparagus until just tender then cut into 1 inch pieces.
- Mix rice, asparagus, dried tomatoes and pesto until well combined. If needed for mixing, you can add some olive oil.
- If using small mozzarella balls in oil, drain, then add to rice. Otherwise cut into bite sized pieces as needed and add to rice mixture. Add half of the pine nuts and stir everything together.
- Top with remaining pine nuts for garnish.
- Serve warm or cold.
- Fresh mozzarella comes in many forms and you can use whatever is available. The bite sized balls marinated in oil and herbs are ideal, just drain and add (you can even use some of the marinating liquid in the salad if needed). For larger forms of fresh mozzarella, just cut into bite-sized pieces before adding.
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