In most cases, rice salads can be dressed not only minutes but hours in advance, making them ideal for entertaining or for just cooking ahead. Cook the rice a bit in advance, and dress it before it gets too cold. (While leftover rice — even from Chinese takeout restaurants — is close to ideal for fried rice, it doesn’t work nearly as well as fresh-cooked rice for salads.)
- 1 ½ to 2 cups brown or white basmati rice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped scallion
- ¾ cup cubed cooked potato
- ¾ cup cooked cauliflowerflorets
- ¾ cup cooked green peas
- ½ cup coconut milk, or more as needed
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
- 1 jalapeño or other hot fresh chile, stemmed, seeded and minced, or to taste, optional
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Cook rice in abundant salted water, as you would pasta, until it’s just done; white rice will take 10 to 15 minutes, brown 30 or a little longer. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain again, then combine with vegetables in a large bowl.
- Combine black pepper, coconut milk, rice wine vinegar and curry powder in a blender and turn machine on; a creamy emulsion will form within 30 seconds. Taste and add more vinegar a teaspoon or two at a time until balance tastes right to you, then add more curry powder, salt, or pepper, if needed.
- Drizzle vinaigrette over rice and vegetables. Use 2 big forks to combine, fluffing rice and tossing gently to separate grains. Stir in chile, if using, and cilantro, taste, and adjust seasoning or moisten with a little more dressing. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day, bringing salad back to room temperature before serving.