Thursday, December 27, 2007

Alpha Bar Brown Rice Salad

When all of the big eating holidays are said and done, this hearty warm salad provides a great winter meal without the guilt. It is inspired by the Alpha Bar, a legendary Oxford lunch take-away frequented by many a health-conscious student. It's my location of choice at least twice a week, owing to its never-boring create-your-own-salad box. Their version of this salad uses cabbage, which I've swapped for iron-rich kale, and soy sauce, which I replaced with a rich balsamic glaze. The beauty of this recipe is that, aside from being dead-easy to make and delicious as a leftover, you can trade ingredients (as I have done) to suit your own tastes. I have also had success using organic brown farro in place of the brown rice. So get creative!

Alpha Bar Brown Rice Salad

3 cups brown rice, cooked according to packet instructions
1/2 c. dried cranberries, soaked in 1/2 c. boiling water
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
8 fronds of kale, trimmed from stems and julienned
4 large shallots, chopped
1 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
4 Tbsp. crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp. each parsley and coriander, chopped
Balsamic reduction, for garnish

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Fry the shallots until softened; about 4-5 minutesthen add the garlic. Add the kale and cover for a minute to wilt. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to sautee until the kale is bright green and any water is evaporated, about 4 minutes. Drain the cranberries and add to the pan, along with the crystallized ginger, if using, stirring for another minute or so. Turn off the heat and add the brown rice and chopped fresh herbs. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Drizzle with a little extra oil and the balsamic reduction.

Serves 2 as a main course or 3-4 as a side dish.


Emily said...


this looks fantastic. the alpha bar is, as you know, my favorite lunch spot. i love your adaptaion of their regular brown rice salad, however. kudos to you.

Helen said...

Oh my goodness! I love love love the alpha bar! I lived in Oxford for 5 years before I moved to London and I really miss that place. I've since tried 'lesser' salad bars such as 'pure california' in London but their ingredients aren't up to scratch. It's making me hungry just thinking about it. Some of my fave combinations, the pesto and the goat's cheese, the wild rice and seaweed, the sundried tommy paste, the mackerel. Oh alpha bar, how I miss you!

Anonymous said...

This is a great, easy, weeknight meal. I made this for the first time last week, and I am already craving the great combination of ingrediates again. Keep up the good work!! I can't wait to read more.