Easter weekend for us is always comprised of orphaned families, including ours, converging on our house for a large meal. By ‘orphaned families’ I mean those families who don’t live near extended family and can’t always celebrate every holiday together. Most of us don’t travel for this holiday, but instead, gather every year to create our own traditions here in Maine. Some years we spend it outside on the deck and on blankets basking in the warmth of the sun. Other years, we enjoy the chilly spring weather from indoors looking out over the still dormant garden. Such was the case this year.
As always, the table groans from the abundance of delicious. One of my favorites was a boneless lamb leg stuffed and rolled with a parsley walnut pesto combined with the following red rice salad.
Red Rice and Asparagus Salad
1 bunch asparagus, stem ends removed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 cups red Bhutanese rice
3 cups water
1 cup minced scallions
2 blood oranges
1 tablespoon Fiore’s blood orange olive oil (or unflavored extra virgin olive oil)
Pinch of salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
In a medium-sized stock pot bring salted water to a boil and add the asparagus. Blanch for 2 to 3 minutes and remove with a strainer. Cool immediately with very cold water. Add the red rice to the pot of boiling water. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 to 50 minutes (depending on the brand of rice used). If the rice is tender, but water still remains in the bottom of the pan, drain in a strainer.
Zest the oranges and set the zest aside in a small bowl. Remove the now white peel from the orange flesh with a sharp knife. With the same sharp knife, remove the membrane from between the orange sections. Squeeze any juice from the remaining membrane into the small bowl containing the zest. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice and combine.
When the rice is cooked, transfer to a strainer to cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients including the zest mixture. Taste for salt and pepper and serve immediately or chill.
Serves 6 to 8