Layered Brown Rice & Avocado Salad
The idea for this salad came from dinner that I recently had at my sister’s house. I had traveled down with the kids for our first overnight at their new house (which is an old schoolhouse, how cool is that?!) and she made delicious Mexican rice bowls for dinner. It was perfect because she knew how much I love Mexican flavors and my husband who may or may not have a cumin allergy (long story), was not with us, so we had ourselves a little fiesta! There was seasoned rice and black beans, guacamole, fresh salsa, and pickled cabbage and you just piled whatever you wanted in your bowl, which of course, was everything. I had a bowl and a half and I had to force myself to stay in my seat and not allow myself to go back for a third helping.
Fast forward a few weeks and I am in the midst of doing an elimination diet to try to pinpoint some food sensitivities. In the beginning, it seems like you can’t eat anything. No wheat, dairy, soy, nightshades, or legumes, which leaves lean meat, vegetables, and rice. And, praise Jesus, avocado which I now buy in bulk because it has become a staple in my diet like never before. Long story short, the beginning of the elimination diet was hard, but in a way I enjoyed it because it was an opportunity to get creative with the ingredients I was allowed to eat. And now I have a few new recipes that I really love and are great for anyone else with some dietary limitations, so it worked out well in the end!
I admit that cold rice salad doesn’t sound too appealing. And when I tell you to throw in some cabbage you’re really going to think I’ve gone off my rocker. Consider clearing your mind of those preconceived notions and give this a try because it is really tasty. It’s chewy, creamy, and crunchy all at once with the bright flavor of cilantro as an added bonus.
First off, we have a mix of brown and wild rice tossed with a cilantro vinaigrette. Now listen, not all brown and wild rice blends are created equal. I recently found this kind at Walmart and it is my new favorite. It’s nice and chewy and not overloaded with plain brown rice as filler. Then we have a quick pickled red cabbage, which is crunchy and just a little sweet. And then of course avocado. Now that I know I can have lime juice (thank goodness for that, how on earth do you make a margarita without lime juice?), I toss my avocados with a few tablespoons of that, but early on, I used some powdered Fruit Fresh that you can buy in the canning section of your grocery store to help keep the avocados from turning too brown too fast.
Start by cooking your rice according to package directions. Depending on the rice that I can find, it takes anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes and you should get about 3 cups of cooked rice. Once that is started, shred your cabbage and make the vinegar mixture. By the time your rice is done cooking and cooled, the pickled cabbage will be ready to go and your salad is ready for assembly. The rice and cabbage could easily be made ahead of time, but I would recommend holding off on cutting the avocado and assembling the salad until closer to serving time.
This salad has already become a staple for me for the summer. There’s no mayo so it is a great option to take to a picnic and the people there who are wheat and dairy free will be grateful that you have brought something that they can enjoy. But don’t just make it for them, you’ll like it too!
As is typical for me, I make a batch during my food prep day on Sunday and then eat it during the week. The avocados will start to brown a bit but otherwise it will hold up fine for a few days. I love to put it on top of some spinach with some cooked chicken for lunch, or have a slightly smaller serving as a side at dinner.
NOTE: Photos depict a double batch which worked well for a large trifle dish.
21 Day Fix Conversion:
- 2 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup uncooked brown and wild rice blend
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 cups cilantro
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 2 avocados
- 1. Heat olive oil in a medium size pot. Add dry uncooked rice, stirring often, until toasted. Add water as called for on the package directions and cook for the designated time, omitting any salt, additional oil, or seasoning packets. You should end up with approximately 3 cups of cooked rice. Set rice aside to cool.
- 2. While rice is cooking, mix vinegar, water, honey, and salt in a bowl. Pour over shredded cabbage and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. Before using for salad, drain excess pickling liquid.
- 3. To make vinaigrette, pulse garlic and cilantro in a food processor. Add in vinegar and salt and process on high. Slowly pour in olive oil until well blended.
- 4. Mix vinaigrette with cooled rice. Layer 1/3 of rice into a glass bowl. Top with 1/2 of drained pickled cabbage. Slice one avocado on top of cabbage. Cover with another 1/3 of the rice, then remaining cabbage and avocado. Spread last third of rice on top of avocado. If you like, serve with wedges of lime to squeeze on top!