Brown Rice Salad with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

Brown Rice Salad with Asparagus and Goat Cheese 

This is a fresh and hearty side dish that will stand out from the crowd.

To easily turn the brown rice into an appealing side salad, stir in crisp, browned bites of asparagus, lemon juice, creamy goat cheese and crunchy toasted almonds. Look for asparagus that is bright green and firm.

Toast the almonds in a skillet (without any oil) set over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent scorching.

Brown Rice Salad with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

Makes 6-8 servings. 

Brown Rice:

1½ cups long-grain brown rice

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Asparagus & Vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound asparagus, trimmed

Salt and pepper

2½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons juice

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (1 cup)

½ cup slivered almonds, toasted

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Bring 3 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add rice and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, 22 to 25 minutes. Drain rice, transfer to parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet, and spread into even layer. Drizzle rice with lemon juice and let cool completely, about 15 minutes.

2. Heat vegetable oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of asparagus with tips pointed in 1 direction and remaining asparagus with tips pointed in opposite direction. Using tongs, arrange spears in even layer (they will not quite fit into single layer); cover and cook until bright green and still crisp, 2 to 5 minutes.

3. Uncover, increase heat to high, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until tender and well browned on 1 side, 5 to 7 minutes, using tongs to occasionally move spears from center to edge of pan to ensure all are browned. Transfer to plate and let cool completely. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

4. Whisk olive oil, shallot, lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper together in bowl. Transfer cooled rice to large bowl. Add asparagus, all but 2 tablespoons goat cheese and dressing; toss to combine. Let stand for 10 minutes.

5. Add ⅓ cup almonds and 3 tablespoons parsley; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining almonds, reserved 2 tablespoons goat cheese, and remaining 1 tablespoon parsley; serve.