Yesterday I mentioned that my fiancé and I had almost gotten into a healthy happy of prepping a lot of food for the week. That way we would have food ready and on hand to grab for work lunches and dinners.
While working a more traditional 9 – 5 to job, I still have trouble having enough energy when I get home from work and making dinner. I’m also typically hungry when I get home from work, so if I don’t have anything healthy prepared, I tend to go for whatever’s easiest. Even if I start cooking something healthy, my hunger overtakes me and I grab a snack while I’m cooking. Even if it’s something healthy, it still leads to overeating. Dieting is as much about eating less as it is eating right.
Food prep can be rough for me, though, too. Specifically because texture is a big thing for me. I typically undercook my veggies to help them stay crisp and crunchy. When you have to prep food and reheat it throughout the week, things can tend to get soggy and mushy. Especially otherwise delicious veggies.
So typically, my preferred food prep includes:
- Things that can be eaten cold (to avoid reheated sogginess)
- Food that doesn’t include veggies in the dish (so I can do fresh veggies throughout the week)
When my fiancé and I recently made our attempts at food prep, he found an interestingly delightful rice salad that has a whole slew of ingredients. Because it’s a salad, it’s eaten cold, but it has a little bit more complexity than a green salad. We typically eat it with roasted turkey, which you can easily reheat when eating to give the dish more depth. The recipe calls for black rice, which I had never had before. I’m sure you could easily make it with wild rice only and be fine. However, we found the black rice in the bulk foods area of our local Whole Foods.
We found the recipe on www.somethingnewfordinner.com, so you can find more information about the dish and some tips there. It’s a lot of ingredients, but we typically get 5-6 meals for 2 people, so it doesn’t seem too over the top. I’ve added my comments to the original recipe in italics. In particular, my suggestions are specifically to help you with the meal prep aspect of this salad.
- 1 cup wild rice
- 1 black rice
- Zest from 1 orange
- 1 T white balsamic vinegar
- 3 T olive oil (orange infused olive oil is particularly nice)
- 1 T juice of orange
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cup celery, diced
- 16 roasted tomato halves
- 1 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained and diced
- 1/2 cup minced shallots
- 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 c chopped parsley
- 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
- Cooked chicken or turkey, chopped or sliced (depending on if you’re doing meal prep)
- The directions for the salad indicate that you should cook the wild rice and the black rice separately. We’ve experimented with cooking them together to varying success. Be sure to adjust the amount of water and the cooking times if you attempt to cook them together. We haven’t found an exact science to this.
- While rice is cooking make dressing. Put orange zest and vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. We also had about 1 T freshly squeezed orange juice. This brings out the orange flavor. Feel free to try different ratios until you find what works best for your preferences. I, for one, prefer a more citrusy dressing for this salad.
- Allow rice to come to room temperature and then put both black and wild rice in a mixing bowl. Add turkey or chicken, celery, diced artichokes, shallots, walnuts, dried fruit, parsley and basil. Toss with dressing and serve. This makes a LOT of salad, so use largest bowl you have, or two medium-large bowls if you need to. Mix the rice with everything else in layers to help you get everything well mixed.
- If food prepping, I recommend have sliced chicken or turkey instead of chopped mixed into the salad. In that case, scoop 1 cup of the rice salad into your meal container, add one roasted tomato, 1 portion of protein.
Because it’s a salad, you can mess with different ingredients and try different ratios to bring out the flavors that you prefer. I love the orange flavor of the vinaigrette, so I tend to add a bit more orange zest and more orange juice than mentioned in the recipe.
Let me know what you think of the recipe! Rice salads are great for my kind of food prep since they give me a much-needed break from green salads, a staple meal for any dieter. I especially like rice salads when the weather gets a little colder. Typically, I’ll grab heavy, decadent comfort foods as the weather changes. This recipe helps me feel like I’m still reaching for something a heavier and substantial while still packing some serious nutrition.
Do you have a go-to rice salad recipe when lettuce isn’t cutting it? Please share it! I’m always looking for new ideas!