Jewel Rice Salad

Serves 8 to 10

Julie Peacock, NYC based registered dietician, yoga teacher and co-author of the Soup Club Cookbook, brings us this stunning salad adopted from the Moosewood cookbook. It's a perfect summer recipe and would be a welcome addition to any picnic or barbeque.

For the rice salad
3 cups uncooked short-grain brown rice
6 to 8 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
½ cup dried cherries
1 ½ cups shaved asparagus
1 ½ cups spinach or arugula, chopped

For the Lemon Dressing
1 garlic clove
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons)
1 1/3 cups olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup, honey or agave
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Put the rice and 4 ½ cups of cold water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to the lowest possible simmer and cook without disturbing for 35 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and rice is tender. Transfer the rice to a baking sheet and spread it out evenly. This will allow the rice to cool evenly and keep the grains separate. Cool completely.

While the rice is cooling, prepare the lemon dressing. Make a paste with the garlic and salt. Combine with the lemon juice, oil, maple syrup and pepper in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cap the jar and shake well to combine.

Transfer the rice to a large bowl and coat with the lemon dressing. Stir in the scallions, parsley, pecans, dried cherries, asparagus and greens.

Serve immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate. The salad is even better the second day.