One of the runaway successes at my Diamond Jubilee Big Lunch Party was my ‘Empire Rice Salad’. It went down a storm! It looked so bright, colourful, fresh and tasty, and there wasn’t very much left by the end…always a great sign! This is definitely going be the go-to party salad for me, as it’s quick and easy to prepare – you use microwave rice, so no stress at all when trying to cook the perfect rice, and aside from that, there is no further cooking involved!
Let me tell you all about it, then please, promise me you’ll go buy the ingredients and make it! Don’t be put off by the ingredients list – they make such a fab (and healthy super food) combo it’s worth the effort to seek the ingredients out. You will need fresh herbs in the form of chives, mint, flat leaf parsley and coriander, dried apricots and dried cranberries, microwave long grain and wild rice mix, pomegranate seeds (you could always buy them pre-prepared, my supermarket had run out), fresh mango, fresh chilli, spring onions, olive oil, lemon juice (I would have used fresh lemons here, but supermarket had also run out!) and finally salt and freshly ground black pepper. I was going to also pop in some toasted almonds for added crunch, but completely forgot!
Start by cooking the rice according to the instructions on the package. Leave to cool down – I spread mine out onto a baking tray to speed up the process, and then when cooled, I put the rice into the fridge for an hour.
Meanwhile, prepare your ingredients. Peel and dice your mango and pop out the seeds from the pomegranate. The easiest way to get the seeds out is to cut the pomegranate in half, hold it cut side down in your hand, and with a large spoon, give the back of the fruit a few good whacks – the seeds come tumbling out!
You also need to cut up the dried apricot into small pieces, slice the spring onions and de-seed and slice the red chillies
Whilst busy preparing, you can also make the the herby dressing which will get mixed into the rice salad.
Chop up the mint, coriander, chives and parsley. You need about 12 tablespoons of these herbs mixed together – use the ratio that you prefer – I used mostly parsley as it’s my favourite herb out of the four I used.
Place the chopped herbs into a bowl, add olive oil and lemon juice then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The mixture isn’t overly oily, almost like a paste, and when mixed into the Empire Rice Salad coats everything quite nicely.
Now time to put everything together, when adding each ingredient, stir everything together well to ensure a nice even mix throughout the salad.
So, in with the spring onions and red chillies…stir…
Fold in the mango chunks…
Stir in the pomegranate seeds…
In with the dried cranberries…
and the cut up dried apricots…
Finally, pour over the herby olive oil dressing and combine well. Give a little taste – it may need some more lemon juice or salt and pepper.
Place into a serving dish and enjoy! Tastes even better the next day, but best not to keep it for any longer than that. Goes very well with my Coronation Chicken Skewers with Mango Dip.
Empire Rice Salad
Serves 12 – 15
- 8 tbsps olive oil
- 2 tbsps lemon juice, plus extra to taste
- 12 tbsps mixed fresh herbs, chopped – flat leaf parsley, chives, mint and coriander
- 4 x 250g packs microwavable long grain and wild rice
- 8 spring onions, finely sliced
- 2 large red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
- 1 mango, peeled, destoned and diced finely
- 150g dried apricots, finely chopped
- 150g dried cranberries
- 180g pomegranate seeds (roughly 2 pomegranates)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 100g toasted flaked almonds (optional)
- Cook the rice according to the instructions on the package. Leave to cool then place into the fridge for one hour.
- Mix the herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a bowl and set to one side.
- When the rice is cold, stir in the spring onions, chilli, mango, dried apricots, dried cranberries and pomegranate seeds and mix well.
- Pour over the the herby olive oil dressing and stir through the salad. Check the seasoning and add more lemon juice, salt and pepper as required.
- If using the flaked almonds, stir some into the salad, reserving some to scatter over the top.
- Serve at room temperature.