This absolutely stunning salad arrived in my kitchen via Heidi’s gorgeous blog. I have been following food blogs for a really long time now (my favorites are over there on the right), and what makes Heidi’s so inspiring is her down-to-earth approach to whole-grain, all-natural cooking. Her poetic, tactile prose accompanies pictures so beautiful, they sweep you up in a heady whirlwind, making you almost forget her recipes are also healthy and good for you.

Many of my favorite bloggers post regularly about delicious and rather decadent-looking things, and while I may bookmark them for a special occasion, they will rarely get me rushing to the kitchen. After all, I can barely be trusted with a jar of nutella, do I really look like I should be making this, and having it sitting on my counter looking cute? I don’t think so. Also, I happen to be married to the most disciplined man when it comes to sweets. He’ll have a sliver so small with his morning coffee, it would make those nutritionists at Cooking Light proud; you know, the ones who claim a serving of a moist chocolate triple layer cake contains a measely 230 calories. Exciting, I know, until you realize that they’ve divided up the cake into 30 slices. And then, to add insult to injury, he’ll go about the rest of the day as if there aren’t 29 servings left, not giving the cake so much as another thought until the next morning arrives, with its promise of a fresh cup of coffee. I, on the other hand, have to use all of my willpower to keep that cake out of my mind. And trust me, out of sight just doesn’t cut it. Which brings us to Heidi and her Big Bowls and her Soups and her Salads. They’re healthy, and wholesome, and they are just want you want for lunch. And if you come back for seconds, they probably really will have 230 calories. Not that we’re counting.

Yesterday marked the launch of Heidi’s newest book, Super Natural Every Day. I have Heidi’s Super Natural Cooking, and I love it. The book is filled with stunning photos, and the recipes and commentary are simply inspiring. When I read about how she threw away the last of her white flour and sugar to make room for whole grains and unrefined sweeteners, I couldn’t get to the garbage fast enough. I pre-ordered her newest on Amazon and when I heard people were receiving theirs in the mail already, I started awaiting mine like a four year old awaiting her birthday. When our doorbell rang earlier today, I almost tripped over myself in my excitement to get to the door, hoping it was the UPS guy, only to see it was someone who wanted to see if she could park in our driveway. I practically snapped at her I was so disappointed. (Side note: there was parking along the curb on the entire street! What on earth possessed this woman to ring a stranger’s doorbell and ask to park in their driveway?!)

And now, without further ado, the star of this event: Brown Rice meets Glorious Lettuce meets Citrus Parmesan Dressing.

It’s that easy.

I really doubt you need more incentive to make this salad, but if you do, here goes: the 1:1 ratio of rice to lettuce makes this light and bright, and the salad, which gets doused with a citrus parmesan dressing (whose name is an incentive in itself) and sprinkled with feta, almonds and dried cranberries, emerges as that often elusive perfect balance of healthy, delicious, earthy and sophisticated.

Brown Rice Salad with Citrus Parmesan Dressing

Adapted from 101cookbooks

It’s really easy to play with the quantities here; the idea is to get a 1:1 ratio of lettuce to rice. You can always make the dressing as it is, and keep it in a jar for other uses, and make as much you want of the salad, keeping the proportion of lettuce and rice, and sprinkling on however much feta/almonds/dried cranberries you’d like. This would also be a wonderful way to use up leftover rice.

Serves 6

Prep time: 15 minutes (assuming you’ve already cooked the rice)

For the Salad:

2 cups brown rice, cooked and cooled

1 big, glorious head of lettuce, washed, dried and roughly chopped

1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted

1/2 cup feta, crumbled

1/2 cup dried cranberries

For the Citrus Parmesan Dressing:

1 medium orange, zest and juice

juice from half a lemon

1 shallot, chopped

1/3 cup Parmesan, freshly shredded

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I used cider vinegar, and all was fine)

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

 

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients, and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Toss the lettuce with a little bit of the dressing, add the brown rice, then add more of the dressing, and toss gently. Taste and add more dressing and/or salt. Sprinkle with the goat cheese, almonds and dried cranberries. You’re done.

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