What a riot of colour! Yep, this is the salad to make when someone says, ‘bring a salad’. It simply can’t be ignored on the table: exotic, smashing colours, a bowl of antioxidants that draws you in – and it tastes just as good as it looks.
And, yes, raw asparagus, go on, you can do it.
1 cup wild rice 3 cups water Salt and flaky sea salt 175g (6 oz) multi-coloured mini peppers, or 1 large yellow or red pepper (bell pepper / capsicum) 1 bunch (about 250g / 8 oz) purple or green asparagus 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Finely grated zest 1 lemon 1½ Tbsp lemon juice 1 Tbsp creamy Dijonnaise mustard 1 Tbsp finely chopped hot red chilli 2 Tbsp finely chopped shallot Freshly ground black pepper 175g (6 oz) mixed cherry tomatoes ½ cup small basil leaves
1 Put wild rice in a sieve and wash under running water. Tip rice into a bowl, cover with cold water and soak or 2 or more hours. (Soaking speeds up the cooking time but is not essential. Read about Wild Rice). Drain rice, tip it into a saucepan and add 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a gentle boil, lower heat, cover pan with a lid and cook gently for 35-40 (or 45-60 minutes if unsoaked), or until the grains are no longer chalky; some grains will have burst open and that is normal.
2 Drain rice into a large sieve and let it cool for 10 minutes, then turn it onto a large tray to cool.
3 Halve peppers, deseeded and slice thinly. Wash and trim asparagus and slice thinly on the diagonal.
4 To make the dressing, whisk oil, lemon zest and juice, mustard, chilli and shallot with black pepper to taste and 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (less if using regular salt). Add warm rice and toss gently with dressing. Add peppers and asparagus and toss well. The salad can be prepared 1 hour ahead to this point.
5 Before serving, halve tomatoes and add to salad. Taste and add more salt if desired Garnish with basil and serve.