When I was working my first job as a cook, we used to whip up a wild rice salad with an orange juice vinaigrette for all the summer weddings.  I worked at a small restaurant on Cape Cod, but on the catering side of the kitchen– the real bread and butter of the operation.  I thought I would be a waitress that summer, but I was too late arriving to the Cape for those jobs.  A friend of a friend who waited tables at this place knew they needed a cook, so she lied and told them I was the best cook she knew (maybe I was– but I had never cooked for her).  Luckily I knew my way around a kitchen enough to not be completely mystified by this experience.

This is an adaptation of that recipe, with the addition of greens and South Texas regional favorites– pecans and figs.  My dilapidated historic landmark of a house has window AC units cooling it, so we try to cook outside this time of year.  Or I might boil some rice or pasta in the morning, turning out cold salads for dinner.   Sometimes I plug in the crock pot on the front porch– real classy, I know!

I like the way the sweet orange juice, figs, and raisins balance the bitterness of the dandelion greens. Parsley with citrus is refreshing.  You could use arugula if you cant find dandelions, but this substitute should be added at the end with figs to prevent the arugula from bruising.

Black Rice Salad with Figs and Dandelions

1 pound (about 2.5 cups) Lundberg Black Japonica field rice

5 cups water

1/4 c. orange juice

1/3 c. olive oil

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tsps. dijon mustard

1/4 c. chopped shallot or scallion

1 tsp. garlic, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 and 1/2 c. coursely chopped fresh parsley (curly)

half a bunch, or 2 cups dandelion greens (trim stems, chop coursely or tear in pieces)

1/2 c. toasted chopped pecans

1/2 c. raisins

3-4 large ripe green (not mission) fresh figs, chopped into 1 inch chunks

Cook the rice according to instructions on the bag– this variety will burn faster than more conventional rice, so watch the temperature.  Set aside to cool.

Make the dressing in a large bowl that can hold the finished salad by combining juice, oil, vinegar, dijon, garlic, shallot, salt and pepper.  Whisk well.  Add the parsley and greens to the dressing and toss.

Toast the pecans carefully in a dry frying pan or on a cookie sheet in the oven (I used the stovetop, as I try to avoid turning on the oven in the summer).

Add the rice to the dressing, parsley, dandelion greens. Add pecans and raisins. Toss well, then add the figs on top.  Chill everything.