Bean / Rice MY ITALIAN MY SPINACH & GREENS SALADS

OVEN-ROASTED PEPPERS AND EGGPLANT RICE SALAD

OVEN-ROASTED PEPPERS AND EGGPLANT RICE SALAD

Savory rice combined with oven-roasted red and green peppers, eggplant and zucchini along with fresh cooked spinach. Mixed with a creamy Balsamic, fresh basil and garlic dressing!

Makes 14 cups

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

ROASTED VEGETABLES:

1 lg. eggplant, washed; using the tip of a sharp knife make several deep cuts evenly around eggplant

2-3 sm. or 1 lg. zucchini, washed; make cuts in the zucchini as you did the eggplant

3 med. green peppers, whole

2 lg. sweet red peppers, whole

Place eggplant, zucchini and peppers on baking sheet. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 1 hour, turning veggies once.

When peppers are done, skins puff up and darken considerably (but not like they’re fire-roasted) and meats of peppers are soft to the touch of the tongs. Remove from baking sheet and place on plate.

Continue to bake the eggplant till the skins are wrinkly, and the entire body of the eggplant is very soft to the touch of the tongs. Some liquid should be leaking out. Remove to plate.

Continue to bake the zucchini till soft throughout and some liquid is leaking out. Zucchini will not be as limp as the eggplant or peppers. Remove to plate and let cool till warm at room temperature. All veggies need to be soft to extract the most amount of flavor, not crunchy.

Remove core and seeds of peppers, then peel off the skins. Cut into 3/4-1 inch squares.

Cut off ends of eggplant and zucchini. Cut each from end to end into 3/4 inch wide soft sticks, then cut crosswise into 3/4 inch wide pieces.

SAVORY RICE:

While the veggies roast, make the rice.

4 c. water

1 t. salt

2 t. mild curry powder

1 t. dried oregano

1 t. sugar

3 c. Golden Canilla parboiled rice by Goya

vegetable oil

Combine water, salt, paprika, curry, oregano and sugar in large saucepan. Stir, return to boil, stir again. Cover tightly, reduce heat to low and cook 20 minutes. Immediately empty into a very large mixing bowl. Add a couple tablespoons of oil. Fluff with fork till all grains are separated and oil-coated. Let set to cool at room temperature, fluffing up occasionally.

COOK SPINACH:

3 bags fresh spinach

Add about 3 inches of water in an extra large pot. Bring to boil. Do not salt the water.

Place spinach in pot and stir till all leaves are softened by the boiling water. Cook till tender. Drain in colander, then press down just a bit to remove excess water. Don’t squeeze hard, you just want the big water to be pushed out. Chill in refrigerator till ready to add to the salad.

DRESSING:

1 c. veggie mayonnaise (I used Earth Balance; Vegenaise is also good)

1/4 c. Balsamic vinegar

1/4 c. white vinegar

1/4 c. light brown sugar

4 lg. garlic cloves, peeled, smashed with the broad side of a sturdy knife and finely chopped

2 t. onion powder

1 t. dried basil

1 t. dry mustard

2 t. salt

lots of freshly ground black pepper

about 2 light handfuls of coarsely cut fresh basil, plus additional for garnish

In separate bowl combine all dressing ingredients, stirring well after each addition. Set aside.

When rice, roasted vegetables and spinach are all at room temperature, add the roasted veggies and spinach to the rice bowl. Stir to evenly distribute the spinach throughout. This will take a couple minutes.

Pour the dressing over all, then stir till to coat evenly. Salt and pepper as needed. Transfer to covered container and refrigerate till cold.

To serve: Place in large decorative bowl and top with fresh basil, cut into strips.

Notes: There’s no one flavor that over-powers any other flavor in this salad. You can taste everything. Mellow but distinct.

It makes a lot, so when you want to serve a crowd, it goes well on a buffet and holds up well too. You can make this salad 1-2 days in advance of serving it.

The long instructions make it look a lot more time-consuming than it is. You make the rice, cook the spinach, pop the veggies in the oven, make the dressing and that’s about it. Not much dicing either.

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