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.
Basmati Rice Salad with Peas, Mint, and Lemon
- 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 extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cook the rice:
Put 2 cups of basmati rice in a medium thick-bottomed pot. Add 3 cups of water (less or more depending on package instructions), 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 strips of lemon zest. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a low simmer, cover the pot and let cook for 15 minutes (again check your package instructions).
Remove from heat, keep covered, and let steam for 10 minutes.
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.
Cool the rice to room temp:
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.
Combine rice with mix-in ingredients to serve:
To the rice add the peas, raisins, green onions, mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Toss to combine and serve.