I first tasted this rice vegetable salad years ago, courtesy of my friend Jamie of caviar pie fame. It features lots of vegetables, cold rice, olives and herbs. Perfect for hot weather, you can play with infinite variations in case you’re missing or don’t like one or more of the elements.
Filling, yet light, the salad is a cornucopia of vegetables, with a few herbs, olives and currants for added flavor. Tied together with a vinaigrette dressing, the elements blend while retaining their distinct shapes, textures, and flavors. The salad has a hint of crunch from the hard vegetables, yet it also goes down easy. If you use a vinaigrette with sparkle (I put Dijon mustard in mine), the glistening rice has an addictive tang that keeps you coming back for more.
The Silver Palate Cookbook, where the recipe that inspired this one came from, is a 1980’s classic. Most people know it for Chicken Marbella, a one pot chicken dish featuring green olives, prunes, and capers. Although the combination may sound weird, the recipe is fabulous. Likewise, this recipe brings together different elements that one might not expect to find together. Currants and olives? Trust me, the result is delicious.
My cookbook club cooked from the book in 2018 and that episode inspired me to make mini-muffin cup appetizers. In any event, you can certainly find this marvelous not-quite relic in a library or a book store/site if there isn’t a copy in your family. I got my copy from my mom and each time I leaf through it, I find something else that makes me smile. Some of the dishes are from a bygone era (Dilled Blanquette de Veau anyone?), but others would fit into a 21st Century cookbook without any trouble. Black bean soup, ratatouille, and this rice salad are prime examples of foods that have stood the test of time.
Tips for Making Summer Confetti Rice Vegetable Salad
- Make it colorful. This salad needs to be colorful. As long as you keep the colors vibrant, feel free to substitute. Don’t like red bell pepper? Fine. Add in a different color bell pepper or another red, green, yellow or orange hard vegetable. How about tiny pieces of parboiled sweet potato or radicchio? I only heard the term confetti salad recently, but that’s an apt description of this dish.
- Keep the ingredients tiny. The beauty of this salad is the relatively uniform size of the ingredients. That’s why you should aim for currants rather than raisins. (Like raisins, currants are dried grapes, but made from smaller ones. In the photo below, the currants are on the left, with dark and golden raisins to the right.) And why, as time consuming and tedious as it can be, you should cut the vegetables into tiny pieces. Of course, you can make the process of prepping the vegetables much more enjoyable with good music or an audiobook. Or do as I did for pitting my sour cherries – get a sous chef.
- Advance preparation. You can cut the vegetables (all except the peas) and herbs the night before and put them in one or more tightly closed containers. You can also make the rice ahead of time but you must add the vinaigrette to the rice while the rice is still quite warm. The heat helps the rice to absorb the dressing, a key feature of the salad. I have prepared the rice, added the vinaigrette, and refrigerated it overnight, adding the vegetables and other ingredients shortly before I serve the salad the next day. You can also add some or all of the vegetables and herbs into the rice mixture and refrigerate the salad overnight. The original Silver Palate recipe calls for adding the vegetables at the last minute, but I’ve never found that to be necessary.
- Food safety tip – keep it refrigerated. While the salad is best at room temperature, it should be refrigerated if made hours or a day before serving. Also refrigerate any leftovers. Even though it doesn’t contain mayonnaise, the rice should not be left at room temperature too long.
Summer Confetti Rice Vegetable Salad
A summer treat featuring rice, herbs, currants, olives, and tiny chopped vegetables, pulled together by a vinaigrette dressing.
- 2 & 1/2 cups uncooked rice (see note below)
- 1 & 1/2 cups vinaigrette dressing (see note below)
- 6 scallions/green onions
- 2 large carrots about 7.5 oz/215 g
- 3 large radishes about 2.5 oz/75 g
- 4-5 inch piece of jicama or daikon radish about 4.3 oz/125 g
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives, preferably Kalamata about 28 olives/3.5 oz/15 g
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped about .25 oz/10 g
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, finely chopped about .5oz/15 g
- 1 & 1/2 cups dried currants 6 oz/170 g
- 10-13 ounces frozen peas (see note below) 285-370 g (10 oz/285 g is about 2 cups)
- kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Cook the rice. When it is done, take the rice off the stovetop or out of the instant pot or rice cooker and put it in a large bowl. While it is still quite warm, add 1 - 1 & 1/4 cups of vinaigrette. (Save the rest of the vinaigrette to add, if desired, once the salad is ready to serve.) Mix the dressing into the rice thoroughly, until you coat all of the rice with the dressing. Let the rice come to room temperature, then refrigerate if you want to serve the salad the next day, or proceed to add the other ingredients as indicated in the directions below.
Cut the vegetables (except for the peas) into tiny pieces about the size of a currant.
Using the directions on the package, cook the frozen peas until they are barely cooked. Think about al dente pasta - we are going for the same general principle here - cooked but not overly so. They need to stand up to gentle mixing without falling apart.
Gently mix the remaining ingredients (diced vegetables, herbs, olives and currants) into the rice and taste, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Serve at room temperature.
Rice - I have not specified which type of rice to use because any type will work in this salad. My personal preference is jasmine rice, which I cook using these directions. Here's another good explanation for how to cook jasmine rice, with or without rinsing. (Hint - you don't need to rinse rice in the US.)
Servings - This amount of uncooked rice ( 2 & 1/2 cups) will yield about 7 cups of cooked rice. That's enough for a small army when you factor in the vegetables and currants, so feel free to cut the recipe in half. Still, the leftovers are delicious and can last 2-3 days, which you should keep in mind when deciding how much to make.
Vinaigrette Dressing - I prefer homemade, but store bought is fine too. Because the dressing may be spicy enough, you do not add the salt and pepper until you're ready to serve the salad, and only then if the salad needs it.
Peas - Like much else in this recipe, the exact amount of peas is not crucial. The packages I saw in the store were 13 ounces so I bought one and used the full package. The original recipe called for 1 package but specified that was 10 ounces. Of course over the 40+ years since the cookbook came out, the weight of a standard package of peas may have changed. In any event, a few more or a few less peas won't matter.