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Dinner Tonight! | SECOND HELPINGS

Better Than First-Class Rice Salad

March 07, 2001|DIANE MORGAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Even if you get bumped up to first class, I recently learned, you may still get served a bland, boring lunch. As I ate the flavorless rice, overcooked chicken and limp vegetables tossed with French dressing, I stared out the window and thought about what an inspired rice salad could be.

Leftover long-grain rice is often in my refrigerator. I make it a habit to cook extra. The remnants of a good pork roast or some herb-roasted chicken seem much more appealing when added to a salad, rather than just reheated. With a little help from some pantry staples like olive oil, pine nuts and capers, an easy main-course salad is almost at hand.

*

Morgan is author of "Cooking for the Week: Leisurely Weekend Cooking For Easy Weekday Meals," (Chronicle Books, $18.95).

Lemon Rice Salad With Capers and Pine Nuts

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes

3/4 cup pine nuts

6 cups cooked rice

2 cups (1/2-inch dice) roast chicken or pork

1/2 cup minced Italian parsley

1 small orange or red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained

Zest of 1 lemon

1/3 cup lemon juice

2/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Freshly ground pepper

6 leaves butter or leaf lettuce

Toast the pine nuts in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until nicely browned. Set aside to cool.

Combine the rice, chicken or pork, parsley, bell pepper, green onions, capers, lemon zest, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Toss lightly to combine.

Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, salt, sugar, and pepper to taste in a 2-cup measuring cup. Add the dressing to the rice mixture and toss to mix. Place a lettuce leaf on each plate, top it with a mound of rice salad, then serve immediately.

6 to 8 servings. Each serving: 626 calories; 622 mg sodium; 42 mg cholesterol; 38 grams fat; 51 grams carbohydrates; 20 grams protein; 3.46 grams fiber.

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