Meal Prep Plus Fun
This weekend was a great mix of productive and fun. On the productive side, I made breakfasts for the next month (egg cups which I will post about soon) and this brown rice salad which will provide us lunches all week.
On the fun side, we had a wonderful date night where we visited a couple of local breweries (Newburyport Brewing Co. and Smuttynose.) And then we to one of my all-time favorite establishments for dinner, Brown’s Lobster Pound in Seabrook, NH.
I’ve been visiting Brown’s literally since I was in the womb. One of my favorite memories from childhood is a field trip to the dog track with my dad (he raised me a gambler from an early age.) He won and we went to Brown’s to eat lobster to celebrate which was extremely exciting for the little seafoodie I’d become by the age of 5 or 6.
I even had my 30th birthday party at Brown’s (in the middle of December!) It’s a fantastic version of what a New England lobster shack should be — no frills, just fresh, awesome seafood. Everything they make at Brown’s is darn good from fried clams to multi-pound lobsters plucked straight from their lobster pool! Part of the appeal is that it’s also BYOB which lends itself well to some pre-lobster brewery stops. Basically, what I’m saying, if you live in the greater Boston area and haven’t been to Brown’s, go there soon!
Harvest Brown Rice Salad
Now onto the recipe. This brown rice salad came out great — though I will not lie, it’s a bit time consuming (easy, but time consuming.) I’m ok with sinking a couple of hours into a recipe if it means feeding myself for a week. Also, a lot of the time is cooking/waiting time. I think this salad would make a wonderful non-traditional Thanksgiving side that you could make days in advance and serve at room temperature.
Harvest Brown Rice Salad
- 3 cups long-grain brown rice
- 4 large carrots peeled and diced medium
- 1 lb parsnips peeled and diced medium
- 1 butternut squash peeled and diced medium
- 1 head cauliflower trimmed and cut into small florets
- 1 ⅓ cup dried cranberries roughly chopped
- 4 oz goat cheese crumbled
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- 1 orange juice and zest
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- 1 ½ tbsp dried thyme
- 1 ½ tbsp dried sage
- salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Cook your brown rice according the package directions. Brown rice takes quite a while — at least an hour — so get this going first. I used my Instant Pot which made quick work of the brown rice.
- Meanwhile, chop all of your veggies (carrots, parsnips, squash, and cauliflower) and put them in a large mixing bowl. Pour 2 tbsp. of olive oil over them and toss to coat them all well. Then sprinkle with 1 tbsp. of thyme and 1 tbsp. of dried sage as well as a couple of hefty pinches of salt and many grinds of pepper. Toss well to combine.
- Spread the vegetables in a single layer evenly over two sheet pans. Cook for about 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. The vegetables will be done when they are tender and just turning brown on the edges. Once the vegetables are cooked, take them out of the oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes.
- While your rice and vegetables are cooking, combine the lemon and orange juices and zest, cider vinegar, honey, olive oil, 1 tsp. of thyme and 1 tsp. of sage in a pint size mason jar. Add a pinch of salt and some grinds of pepper. Put the lid on the mason jar and shake a bunch until everything is combined into a vinaigrette.
- Once your brown rice is ready, scoop it into a large mixing bowl and pour half of the vinaigrette (shake again until combined if the vinaigrette sat for awhile and separated) over the warm rice and fold into the rice. The hot rice will soak up the vinaigrette and your rice will get seasoned. This is similar to the way sushi rice is made. Let your rice cool to room temperature.
- Once the rice and vegetables are cool, combine them by folding the vegetables into the rice mixture. Add the dried cranberries at this time. Finally, fold in the crumbled goat cheese.
- You’ll have leftover vinaigrette. If you’re saving this salad to serve after it's been refrigerated for any period of time, I like to refresh it with a bit of extra vinaigrette. For the lunches, I spooned some extra vinaigrette into each jar for extra flavor. This salad is best served at room temperature.
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