Insalata di Riso con Verdure e Fagioli

Rice Salad with Vegetables and Beans

One of my favorites among all rice salads. The cooked ingredients—cranberry beans and diced boiled zucchini—are mingled with tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. The brisk olive oil and lemon dressing includes basil, garlic, and oregano.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 pound fresh cranberry beans (unshelled weight); or ½ cup dried, soaked overnight; or half a 19-ounce can, drained
  • Salt
  • cups long-grain rice
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon garlic chopped very fine
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced into ¼-inch cubes
  • 4 to 6 ripe plum tomatoes (depending on size), skinned raw with a peeler, seeded, and diced into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 yellow or red sweet bell pepper, quartered, seeded, cored, skinned raw with a peeler, and diced into ¼-inch cubes
  • 6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, cut into narrow strips

Method

  1. Soak the zucchini in cold water for at least 20 minutes.
  2. If using fresh beans, shell them and wash the beans in cold water. If using dried beans, drain them of their overnight soak and rinse them in cold water. Put either fresh or soaked dried beans in a pot and pour in enough water to cover by at least 3 inches. Do not add salt. Cover the pot and bring to a slow, steady simmer. Cook until tender, then drain and set aside to cool. If using canned beans, drain and set aside.
  3. Drain the zucchini, rinse them in cold water, and scrub them vigorously with a rough cloth to remove all grit from the skin. Do not cut off their ends. Put them in a pot of water without any salt and boil until just tender but still firm. Drain and set aside to cool. When cold, trim away both ends and dice the zucchini into ¼-inch cubes.
  4. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt, and, as the water resumes boiling, put in the rice. Cook until the rice is tender but firm. Drain, transfer to the bowl in which you will subsequently serve the salad, and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  5. Put the remaining olive oil, the lemon juice, chopped garlic, oregano, and several grindings of black pepper in a small bowl. Beat with a fork until the ingredients are blended into a homogeneous sauce for dressing the salad.
  6. Add all the diced vegetables and the beans to the bowl containing the rice. Pour the dressing over them, add the basil, and toss thoroughly. Serve after 1 hour or even several hours later.

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