Basmati Rice Salad with Peas, Mint, and Lemon
Nothing says spring like peas and mint. My friend Kathi came over the other day and shared with me one of her favorite picnic salad recipes showcasing fresh English peas and mint. (Thanks Kathi!) Toss the shelled, blanched peas with some aromatic basmati rice, minced fresh mint leaves, a little lemon zest and juice, and a handful of raisins or currants and you have a delightful rice salad, which can double as a side for curry. Don’t like raisins? Use currants, chopped dried apricots, or leave them out entirely.
Save time by prepping ingredients while the rice is cooking.
Sprinkle with some toasted cashews to the salad for added crunch.
- 2 cups uncooked basmati rice (which will yield 5 to 6 cups cooked rice)
- 3 cups water (or more, depending on the package instructions)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 2-inch strips of fresh lemon zest (use a vegetable peeler to take just the zest, not the whole peel, off of a fresh lemon)
- 2 cups shelled English peas (from about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of shell-on peas), or 2 cups of frozen peas
- Salted water for blanching (1 quart water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt)
- 1/4 cup golden raisins or currants, plumped in enough water to cover the raisins for 5 to 10 minutes, then drained
- 1/2 cup minced green onions, including the greens (about 2 green onions)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh mint leaves (spearmint)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Cook the rice according to package instructions; include salt in the cooking water along with 2 strips of lemon zest.
2 If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the size and freshness of the peas (larger older peas will take longer than smaller fresher peas). Strain peas from blanching water and place in a bowl of ice water to shock them and stop the cooking, then strain. If using frozen peas, they are already blanched, so defrost them by placing them in a strainer and running lukewarm water over them for a minute.
3 Once the rice is cooked, spread the rice out on a large baking sheet pan to cool quickly. Let cool for 10 minutes, or until room temperature. Place in a large serving bowl.
4 To the rice add the peas, raisins, green onions, mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Toss to combine and serve.