Wednesday was Administrative Professionals Day and the program heads & office managers all got together to buy the entire staff a wonderful spread for our staff appreciation lunch. From soup to pasta to some wonderful salads, they really went all out for us and it felt good to be a part of that. Everything tasted great, but I have to confess that I went a little crazy when it came time for dessert. Sure, there was a cake and cake can be good; however, when there is a giant homemade flan sitting next to a store-bought cake with questionable looking icing, there really is no contest. I had a slice of flan about the size of my computer and thoroughly enjoyed every delicious bite of it, but felt immediately guilty for ruining my nearly perfect eating track record for the past few weeks (which is quite easy to do when you're bare bonesin' it, actually). I wanted to get back on the wagon immediately after my flan-dulgence because I knew I'd be going all out for my mom's belated birthday celebration this weekend, and figured a tasty brown rice salad would be a great way to finish out the work week in a healthy fashion.
Rice salads in general are awesome because you can get most of your basic food groups in one easy, tasty dish. They're quite easy to make and extremely economical, what with rice being a very inexpensive staple and the way rice salads make use of all those little veggie leftovers you may have hanging around in your fridge. Made with brown rice, you can up the nutrition factor of your salad with a higher fiber content and essential nutrients like magnesium & zinc. When you're really bare-bonesin' it because you're down to your last few dollars and bits of food, it's great to know that there are ways to pack in plenty of nutrition instead of falling into the fast food or processed food trap that so many succumb to. To ensure I could make a balanced meal out of this salad, I added some tuna for protein and some fun flavor & texture.
You can get as creative as you want with this one, which is yet another fun thing about rice salads. I've seen versions that include all sorts of random veggies, from celery to cucumber (and oh, how I wish I'd had a cucumber for mine!). I made mine with what I had on hand and it turned out just lovely. When it comes to the dressing, feel free to use your favorite bottled vinaigrette (I used my all-time fave, Wish Bone Italian) or make your own simple vinaigrette from scratch. Let's check out this über-quick & easy recipe.
Brown Rice, Veggie & Tuna Salad (makes 4 servings; total cost per serving: ~$0.85)
1 1/2 c cooked brown rice
1 can of tuna, drained
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
3 T your favorite bottled vinaigrette or quick vinaigrette (recipe below)
2 T olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
If making your dressing, combine all dressing ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together until completely combined. Set aside. In a larger bowl, add the rice, drained tuna and all the veggies, and toss together with the dressing. If you have some time and want a richer flavor, refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour to allow all the flavors to combine well; otherwise, serve immediately. Serve with some spring greens or baby spinach, and enjoy!