Mediterranean Risoni Style Salad

We were out perusing the grocery aisles, I was craving a risoni salad, but couldn’t find any gluten free risoni. Our local grocer, who normally stocked it, had stopped selling the product, and I found myself in a bit of a pickle.
What to use instead of risoni, that might have the same texture and work in the same way? The question buzzed around my head as I stared at the grocery shelves. My husband waited patiently as I walked up and down the pasta aisle, searching longingly for the precious gluten free risoni, or a similarly sized gluten free pasta alternative. After a while, with many frustrated sighs and pacing up down the aisles, my husband said “why not just use rice, they use rice flour to make the pasta anyway…”

He was right, why not use rice?

So, I made my way to the rice aisle and searched until I found the style of grain I was after, Carnaroli rice. I threw it in my basket and made way for the check out.

I got the rice home, experimented with some flavours, and long story short, the Mediterranean Risoni Style Salad was born.

I hope you enjoy the flavours as much as I do!

MEDITERRANEAN RISONI STYLE SALAD
Ingredients:

250g Carnaroli rice (unless you can find gluten free risoni)
1/2 cup canned/bottled lupini beans (can substitute with cannellini beans)
1 large red capsicum, sliced into bite size strips
1/2 red onion, sliced into bite size strips
75g semi dried tomatoes, cut in half
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 cups rainbow chard/silverbeet/kale, shredded finely
1/4 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup grated pecorino – I like to use an olive, rocket and chilli flavoured pecorino from our local deli, but just use your favourite
1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp gluten free balsamic vinegar – really needs to be good quality, we use a 25 year aged balsamic from Modena that is 100% grape concentrate

Method:
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the Carnaroli rice and cook until ‘al dente’, mine boiled for around 12 minutes.
2. While the Carnaroli rice is cooking, drain the lupini beans, place in a saucepan, cover with water and boil for 20 minutes. If you have pre-cooked lupini beans or are using canned cannellini beans, then simply drain and rinse thoroughly. Set aside.
3. Slice the capsicum, red onion and semi dried tomatoes, place them in a fry pan with 2 tbsp olive oil and gently caramelise together on a low heat, stirring every couple of minutes. After 10 minutes, add the garlic and rainbow chard to the mixture and cook for a further 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, take off the heat and set aside.
4. Drain the Carnaroli rice and refresh by rinsing in cold water. Drain the rice really well, then combine with capsicum mixture in a large bowl.
5. Grate over the pecorino, add the basil leaves, dried parsley flakes, garlic powder, lemon zest, lupini beans and balsamic vinegar, then mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.

I like to grate a little extra pecorino over the top before serving, for a little extra kick of flavour. Mangia!

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