Lemony Rice Salad with Peas and Mint

May 10, 2011

Did I mention that we had snow on Easter? And on the 2nd day of May? Ah, Spring–you fickle wench.

Truth be told, the girls are used to this batshit crazy weather, so when they woke to the reality of Plan B: Indoor Easter Egg Hunt, they didn’t miss a beat.  Nor did they object to mittens in May. It’s just the way things shake out in the Rocky Mountains.

I, on the other hand, have been hankering to kick Old Man Winter in the testicles for several months now.  I wasn’t pleased with his refusal to pack up his jammies and leave Dodge. Yo, Winter: time to go, dude.

My mind has been on light, fresh, springtime fare and yet the weather outside is still screaming, “Stew! Soup! Gi-normous plate of noodles!”  It’s more than a little aggravating, and it’s starting to make me cranky.  My husband looked a little concerned the other day when I opened the door, stomped outside and shook both middle fingers at the white stuff falling in our back yard.  Actually, that little demonstration was so gratifying that I felt compelled to repeat it. Twice.

Perhaps to pacify my wrath, Spring sent a few lovely, 70-degree days later that week.  Yet again, in a fit of optimism, we wheeled the grill onto the patio and rinsed off the deck chairs.  It’s a little nutty of us, but hey–everyone needed an afternoon of frolic and family.  The girls collected  crab apple blossoms and a fluffy little bunny graced us with his company, and a few big fat robins joined the party, too.

We grilled some simple chops and chicken, and I added this salad alongside.  It’s pure simplicity–citrus, mint, and a few humble ingredients. When they all mix together though, you get something rather delightful. It’s clean, fresh and just the thing for a spring buffet table.  It plays well with others, too.  I anticipate some repeat visits when outdoor entertaining season gallops in with a bang!

It cannot get here any too soon.

Lemony Rice Salad with Peas and Mint*

serves 6

from Gourmet Today

2 cups Arborio rice

kosher salt

1 (10-ounce) package frozen baby peas, thawed

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup torn fresh mint leaves

Cook rice in a 6- to -8-quart pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt) for 10 minutes. Add the peas and cook until rice is tender, about 4 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under very cold water, and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl.

Whisk together oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl until salt is dissolved. Add to rice mixture and toss to coat.

Just before serving, sprinkle salad with mint and toss again.

* I know it’s an odd idea–cooking rice in the same manner you would pasta (eg: in a huge jacuzzi of water)–but it really works wonders here. By cooking the arborio rice (the rice you use for risotto) in a large quantity of water, a lot of the starch washes away, leaving you with a really light dish.  Make sure to rinse the cooked rice in cool water after cooking, to remove any existing starch and stop the cooking process.  It seems a little fussy, but it’s worth it.

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Salad in a Jar May 10, 2011 at 5:41 am

I put peas and rice together all the time but this recipe would take it to a whole mew level. Sorry about your long winter. That snow would have me skittering home to Texas in a second. But please keep the guest room ready. I’ll be back in July.


Erica@PLRH May 10, 2011 at 5:49 am

Oh yum! This would be perfrect on a hot, sticky day in Florida! (We have lots of those.) I can’t wait to try this recipe.

Good for you for giving Old Man Winter the finger multiple times. Very expressive and therapeutic.


elizabeth May 10, 2011 at 6:11 am

We’ve been having some wacky weather too (not quite snow, mind you, but plenty of unseasonably cool days) and I feel you on wanting fresh, springy food despite waking up some mornings and needing to pull the afghan over my shoulders because it’s shockingly chilly!

As for taking out the grill with the first warm, sunny day–I say go for it. You might as well, right?


annabelle May 10, 2011 at 6:39 am

Oh the rockies – I love that part of the country.

When I was kid I’d come there for spring break to ski while my friends were hitting the beaches.

We’re tipping the 90s this week and I’m displeased to say the least. Enjoy your cool temps, surely they won’t last much longer.

ps- the dish looks delish


Lindsey May 10, 2011 at 6:39 am

I adore mint. Totally going to try this. merci!! xox


Jennifer May 10, 2011 at 7:12 am

This sounds absolutely delightful.

And when I read the first part of the instructions I thought “but that’s not the way you cook rice.” I’m glad you added the last part to clear it all up.


Phoo-d May 10, 2011 at 7:23 am

This sounds perfect about now! We’ve had a lot of late cold weather too- but then today it is 90. The weather around is here is nuts I tell you!


tasteofbeirut May 10, 2011 at 8:18 am

Sorry to hear about your weather troubles! No complaint here. This rice salad is such a perfect illustration of what springtime eating should be; light, minty, lemony, delicate.


Jenna May 10, 2011 at 8:36 am

What an interesting technique to cook the rice–and I’m now craving the freshness of mint. I love just chomping down on a few leaves–it makes my mouth feel glorious.


Belinda May 10, 2011 at 9:50 am

This looks positively delicious!


Tiffany May 10, 2011 at 10:12 am

I am ready for summer over here!! Light up the grill!


BigLittleWolf May 10, 2011 at 11:46 am

Mmmmm. Yummy. (And unlike my last culinary endeavor, no need to devein shrimp… ) ;)

Sign me up!


Sherri May 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Same here – rain / sleet on Easter…. hunted eggs indoors where my lovely Lil, the three year old, threw her basket because the older kids got all the eggs :-(. Anyway – lovin’ the idea of this rice salad – so fresh – so springy… just eating it will make it so – spring, that is.


Samantha Angela May 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Unless my Nonna is making risotto, she always cooks rice like pasta (maybe because she’s Italian?) so I grew up thinking that was how you cooked it!


Samantha Angela May 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Unless my Nonna is making risotto, she always cooks rice like pasta (maybe because she’s Italian?) so I grew up thinking that was how you cooked it.


Samantha @ Bikini Birthday May 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Unless my Nonna is making risotto, she always cooks rice like pasta (maybe because she’s Italian?) so I grew up thinking that was how you cooked it !


Leslie May 10, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Snow on Easter. It was hot as hell here. Wanna switch?
Yummy rice salad!


Katybeth May 10, 2011 at 2:03 pm

All of my favorite things! A friend just gave me a large mint plant and admonished me not to kill it. I think that says it all about my gardening skills. I have never cooked rice this way before but am looking forward to giving it a try.
Please don’t even get me started on the weather…today it is 80 and muggy instead of 40 and freezing.


SuziCate May 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Snow on Easter? Now that just isn’t right!!!


Heather May 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm

My boys have pulled out shorts everyday for the past week in the hopes that this time might just be the time I say yes. Old man winter has long overstayed his welcome. My new grill arrives on Thursday and I’m planning on roasting winter’s ass right on out of town :)


Velva May 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Beautiful spring time dish. Sending you the hot ( I’m already over it) weather from Florida. Appears that Summer has already bullied Spring here (ugh).



Contemporary Troubadour May 10, 2011 at 9:01 pm

It’s been unseasonably cold here too, even for Seattle. I made individual noodle casseroles for dinner tonight because we needed something warm. Sad truth. Next week’s trip to 100-degree Texas is going to be a bit of a shock to the system …


Nancy C May 11, 2011 at 3:52 am

My mom and dad life outside of Boulder and they are constantly telling me how wonderful it is.

And then I hear about shit like this. Or I see snow when I visit in May. Or October.

“But it’s 80 degrees today!” mom wails on the phone.

Not buying it. Snow is snow.

It is lovely, though.


TKW May 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm


Despite the spring assholery, I promise that this neck of the woods rocks. If you come on down, give me a holler?


Mary Lee May 11, 2011 at 5:12 am

My favorite Middle Eastern restaurant here uses mint and lemon juice in a delightful salad I usually order there. This dish sounds tasty — you’re doing a fine job of coming up with those sides, mah deah!

I’m curious… there are so many flavors of mint. Which do you prefer for this?

My sympathies about your weather. Cruel and unusual punishment. Are you SURE you can’t move to the east coast?


TKW May 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I don’t know, really? I think spearmint is too strong, so just the standard mint you can get at the grocery store, or a peppermint leaf?


KLZ May 11, 2011 at 6:24 am

I honestly cannot wait to make this. Yum!


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri May 11, 2011 at 11:27 am

If there is mint, I’m in. Thanks Kitch!


Cheryl @ Mommypants May 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm

This look delish! Once I’m done w/ this emeffing two-week diet of no starches, I am SO making this!


Jane May 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm

The picture alone sends my taste buds into a tizzy! I love lemon and mint in my tea – I’m going to love it with rice! Thanks! (I’m sending some sunshine and warmth your way. We hit 90 today, so we have heat to spare!)


Honesty good food May 11, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Gotta love clean simple flavors!


Linda at Bar Mitzvahzilla May 11, 2011 at 10:16 pm

And down here in what’s-supposed-to-be-blazing-hot-Arizona, it’s a lovely 80 degrees! Eh. Sounds yummy. With being sick, this week I’ve been lucky if I could even remember to eat. This is NOT a problem I have very often!


Naptimewriting May 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

Will you just come cook for me all the time? I’ll clean or babysit or do whatever you don’t want to do. But I get depressed seeing how yummy your food is and how much effort you put in and how little I have by mealtime. How I used to love cooking and how I now dread it. Ugh with the cooking.

So please come over. Cook. I’ll ply you with wine and chocolate and gossip and support. And whatever else you want.


Maria May 13, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Maybe we could tag team? I’ll home school, entertain the kids and Kitch can cook. It really does take a village!

Sounds delish…I bet it was scrumptious with the grilled chops!


TKW May 14, 2011 at 9:38 am


You and Nap could be in my village any day. Move out here now!


TKW May 14, 2011 at 9:37 am

Whatever I want? Bwhahahahaha. I want ButterBaby! Actually, wine, crack cheese rolls, gossip and support sounds pretty damn wonderful.


grace May 13, 2011 at 3:34 pm

oh, man, do i love peas. peas and pasta is a favorite, but peas and rice is a close second. i love the subtle accompaniments you’ve added!


faemom May 19, 2011 at 11:46 pm

I tend to give the finger to things that piss me off, too. Like the weather. And chairs that kick me.

And that rice sounds amazing!


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