Home > Creative Cooking Crew Challenge > The Best Rice Salad Ever!

Just look at that mise en place — and it only partially reflects all the ingredients. The finished dish had 3 different rice varieties, pork loin, cranberries, dates, walnuts, a variety of lentils, herbs, raw vegetables — and a chocolate and orange dressing!! Yes, you read that correctly: chocolate and orange!!

Great for a party or a one-dish meal for the family.


This is my entry for this month’s Creative Cooking Crew challenge which invited us to use rice in a creative way. I thought about grinding rice to make rice flour and then make something from that … but, one day, while fishing around for dinner for myself, I came up with this.

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Each rice variety was cooked separately: the black with just salt, the white with dried cranberries and flavored/colored with annatto and saffron flowers, and the green bamboo rice was cooked with the lentils blend and oregano.

Parsley, scallion and baby zucchini were the fresh elements for the rice base.

The pork, raw zucchini, parsley, scallions and dates were folded into the cooked rice and then it was dressed with …

I only used a little of each but the flavor(s) were definitely noted in both taste and fragrance.

So Why is this The Best Rice Salad Ever?
If you’re like me and find that a little sweet with savory tickles your palate and you like the texture play of cooked and fresh ingredients in each forkful, then this might just be the best rice salad for you too. Even the 3 rice varieties had a different bite. And … the whole dish was made with leftovers (well-seasoned pork), pantry staples (rice, lentils, dried fruit, nuts) and a few fresh ingredients. Of course, the specialty oil and vinegar just made it SING. And it hit all high notes!

The group round-up will be published on Lazaro Cooks on 2/27.

Visit our pinterest page for past challenges and inspiration.


27 Comments, RSS

  • platanos mangoes

    says on:
    February 16, 2014 at 9:08 am

    It looks and sounds delicious. I must get a bottle of the dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.
    platanos mangoes recently posted..FLAN FOR VALENTINE’S DAYMy Profile

  • Victoria of Flavors of the Sun

    says on:
    February 16, 2014 at 9:13 am

    I am almost weeping as I read this–it looks that good. And that interesting. Truly, Joan, you should be in the business of just developing fabulous recipes. Have never had bamboo rice before, so that is also interesting. Wow.
    Victoria of Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Chicken Mofongo–Caribbean Fusion FoodMy Profile

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      February 16, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Thanks so much for your enthusiastic comment. For me, it’s almost always about the nuances and the development of flavors and textures. I love when other people ‘get it’. 🙂

  • A Canadian Foodie

    says on:
    February 16, 2014 at 10:32 am

    First of all, I will google Bamboo rice. Never heard of it. Next, I have to ask: how do you think like this? Your imagination and creativity is second to none, Joan. There is absolutely NO doubt about that! I am certain the salad was delicious…but I wouldn’t have come close to “throwing this together” on a hungry evening if I had a PHD in recipe development.
    Standing Ovation!

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      February 16, 2014 at 10:37 am

      Thank you Valerie — that’s soooo nice of you!! The bamboo rice is a pretty green color but, sadly, when cooked it loses much of its color. I was planning to puree some green herbs to mix with it to keep the green color, but then decided to cook it with the multi-colored lentils.

  • angela@spinachtiger

    says on:
    February 16, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Outstanding dish. Funny thing is only yesterday I heard of chocolate balsamic vinegar, then again this morning and now tonight. Must be a hot thing. I loved it at a tasting. This is a very inspirational rice dish.
    angela@spinachtiger recently posted..25 Beet Recipes and Are Red Beets an Aphrodisiac?My Profile

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      February 17, 2014 at 7:10 am

      Thanks, Angela. I’ve tried the chocolate balsamic twice so far. First, on strawberries and then with this dish. I look forward to your dish.

  • sippitysup

    says on:
    February 17, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    You just went CRAZY on this thing! XOGREG
    sippitysup recently posted..Pickled Shrimp from BijouxsMy Profile

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      February 17, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Yeah, and it was “crazy” good!

  • christo

    says on:
    February 17, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    what a great dish – I can almost taste the grassy flavor of the bamboo rice nestled in this truly tasty combination
    christo recently posted..Creative Cooking Crew Challenge – RICEMy Profile

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      February 17, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Thanks Christo. I really enjoy our monthly challenges.

  • Evelyne@cheapethniceatz

    says on:
    February 19, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Really spectacular creation Joan, it is so beautiful and love ll the flavored and textures. I have had all these rices, yum on the bamboo.

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      February 20, 2014 at 6:24 am

      Thanks — I look forward to seeing what you do!

  • Erica

    says on:
    February 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Beautiful salad,Joan!What a great combination of flavors, colors and textures!
    Erica recently posted..Sancocho de Albóndigas (Meatball Soup)My Profile

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      February 24, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you Erica. I hope you’re participating this month.

  • bellini

    says on:
    February 28, 2014 at 6:27 am

    Thinking outside the box is your specialty Joan. In the next few weeks I need to hit the 2 new olive oil and vinegar shops here in K-town to find some specialties.

  • deana@lostpastremembered

    says on:
    February 28, 2014 at 7:10 am

    I am crazy for sweet and savory combinations. The photo of all the ingredients is a knockout. Don’t you love it when an idea turns out to be brilliant? It always makes me terribly happy and proud of myself. You must feel just that way with this and the wild new ingredients. Great dish.

  • Victoria

    says on:
    February 28, 2014 at 8:28 am

    What a colorful and stunning dish! I love the thought that went into preparing each variety of rice before composing your salad.
    Victoria recently posted..Bouchon Bakery Banana MuffinsMy Profile

  • Jenn and Seth

    says on:
    February 28, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    wow!! what a seriously awesome rice salad! I especially adore that chocolate orange dressing!

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      March 1, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Thanks. I enjoyed yours too but, unfortunately, your comment set-up doesn’t allow me to post a comment. Can’t you add the “name/url” option?

  • La Diva Cucina

    says on:
    March 1, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    I’ve not seen or eaten bamboo rice, it looks interesting, Joan. I love food with multiple textures and colors, this sounds and looks excellent! Guess what? I was just given a bottle of that chocolate vinegar at Christmas! I’ve been wondering what to do with it, my friend who gave it to me used it over seared tuna the other night. I’ll share your blog with her to inspire her like it did me!
    La Diva Cucina recently posted..FEBRUARY RICE CHALLENGE: Sriracha Creamed Shrimp over Fried Black Rice Cakes with Sweet Corn “Bisque”My Profile

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      March 1, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      Thanks Laura — the chocolate balsamic is also good drizzled over strawberries and other fruit, particularly in combination with cheese.

      • Peggi McKinley

        says on:
        March 3, 2014 at 1:28 pm

        Absolutely! I’m the friend that gave Laura the chocolate balsamic… I loved it with an orange segment on a baguette with brie….

    • Peggi McKinley

      says on:
      March 3, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Actually it was Vanilla Balsamic I used on the seared tuna – but I also just drizzled Persian Lime Balsamic over broiled salmon and used my White Peach Balsamic in a shredded cabbage salad with apples and shallots…

      • Joan Nova

        says on:
        March 3, 2014 at 3:37 pm

        That sounds delicious!

  • upstartkitchen

    says on:
    March 3, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    There’s a great olive oil/vinegar shop in suburban philly that we’ve been visiting on our trips to my husband’s mother. You’ve encouraged me to pick up some of their orange olive oil (they have lime and a number of other citrus as well) …
    upstartkitchen recently posted..Ten thousand lakes.My Profile

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      March 4, 2014 at 7:12 am

      Do it! I’ve been having fun trying different blends and they’re all good based oils and vinegars.

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