Meatless Monday: Autumn Rice Salad

By: Lauren Miyashiro
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Halloween festivities started this weekend, and the candy limitations I set for myself proved fruitless. I’m powerless when it comes to Snickers and Butterfingers, especially when they’re deemed more acceptable than usual in honor of the spooky holiday. So to counteract all the chocolate, I’ll be cooking myself a balanced Meatless Monday dinner tonight. On the menu: Autumn Rice Salad with Dried Fruit and Pecans -- no dessert.

Quick-cooking rice makes this a speedy weeknight dinner, so you'll have more time to enjoy (or dread) some scary movies. I imagine quinoa would work well here too, but for now that’s just a theory. Cranberries and pecans give the whole dish the classic fall flavor, and the contrast between the nutty sesame oil and tangy rice vinegar makes for a lovely dressing. The dates and honey do add a bit of sweetness, but not overwhelmingly so, and certainly nothing in comparison to the massive amounts of candy I’ll be consuming once again this Thursday.

Autumn Rice Salad with Dried Fruit and Pecans

1 cup quick-cooking white, brown and wild rice blend, such as Rice Select Royal Blend

2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Asian dark sesame oil
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup whole pitted and chopped dates (about 8 dates)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped scallions
3 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted

Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Spread out the rice on a baking sheet and let cool 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, honey and sesame oil in a large bowl. Stir in the rice, cranberries, dates, parsley, scallions and pecans and toss well to coat.

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