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I’ve noticed that certain seasons tend to acquire a theme, and this summer was definitely the summer of the “Curried Lentil, Wild Rice, and Orzo Salad”.
It all started back in June, when my cousin got married, and my wonderfully ambitious aunt prepared the meal for 170 guests. This included a gigantic batch of Curried Lentil, Wild Rice, and Orzo Salad that was made a day ahead and stored in white pails stacked out in their barn. (Coincidentally, the groom’s mother made the exact same salad for the rehearsal dinner on Friday night, so we’d had our fill by the time Saturday rolled around.) All throughout the wedding feast, the pails kept coming out to refill the serving dishes, but at the end of the night, there were multiple pails still left! Needless to say, we all went home with plenty of salad. My husband and I ate it on our camping trip, lasting as far as New Brunswick.
At the end of August, when my sister got married, my mother decided to make Curried Lentil, Wild Rice, and Orzo Salad for 85 guests. Since it’s easily multiplied and can be made in advance, it’s the perfect choice for a large crowd – plus, none of us had eaten it in two months! My mom, cousin, aunt, and I spent an entire day preparing all the food, and salad prep fell to me. I chopped red onions for an hour. I roasted and ground all the spices by hand. I measured and mixed until we had another gargantuan amount of salad. It garnered rave reviews from all the wedding guests but, once again, we had overestimated the amount needed and ate it for days afterwards!
So, I don’t quite know what possessed me to make it for my husband’s 30th birthday party this past weekend. Well, I do know I wanted something easy and delicious to feed the 40 guests we were expecting for dinner, and the salad did the trick. It was a big hit with guests and received many compliments and requests for the recipe. The only problem is that the party ended sometime early on Sunday morning, but the end of eating salad leftovers is still nowhere in sight!
I assure you that the reason we had so many leftovers has nothing to do with lack of flavour! Here is this wonderful recipe in its unadulterated, single-batch form. Although the list of ingredients looks long, it’s mostly spices that you’ve already got in your cupboard. The curry flavour is actually quite subtle and not spicy. Enjoy, and who knows – perhaps this will become your family’s Salad of Autumn 2011 if you make it often enough!
Curried Lentil, Wild Rice and Orzo Salad
½ cup wild rice
2/3 cup green or brown lentils
½ cup orzo pasta
½ cup currants
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp each granulated sugar, salt, and ground coriander
¼ tsp each turmeric, paprika, nutmeg, and ground cardamom
Pinch each cinnamon, ground cloves, and cayenne
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cover and cook wild rice for 35 minutes or until tender. In separate saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and cook lentils for about 25 minutes or until tender. In third saucepan of boiling salted water, cook orzo for about 5 minutes or just until tender.
2. Drain rice, lentils, and orzo; transfer to a large bowl. Add currants and onion; set aside.
3. DRESSING: In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, cumin, mustard, sugar, salt, coriander, turmeric, paprika, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne; whisk in oil. Pour over rice mixture and toss gently.
4. Let salad cool completely; cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 2 days.) To serve, sprinkle with almonds.
Makes 6 servings.
From “The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook” by Elizabeth Baird
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Friday, September 30, 2011