Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal

Vegetarian Brown Rice Salad With Parsnips and Whipped Ricotta


This simple rice salad combines hearty parsnips, toasty hazelnuts, sweet orange segments, and crispy Little Gem lettuce for a bright, refreshing dinner. Creamy whipped ricotta finishes the meal with rich, filling protein.

Ingredients ~

  • ¾ cup short-grain brown rice
  • ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more, divided
  • 2 large oranges, divided
  • 1 bunch (about 1 ½ pounds) parsnips, peeled, cut into ¼” coins
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup blanched hazelnuts
  • 1 ½ cups whole-milk ricotta
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 heads Little Gem lettuce or baby romaine hearts, torn into bite-size pieces (about 6 cups)
  • ½ cup whole parsley leaves

Method ~

Arrange a rack in center of oven; preheat to 450°F. Mix rice, 1 Tablespoon oil, a pinch of salt, and 5 cups water in a medium heavy saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until rice is al dente, about 25 minutes. Drain, then rinse with cool water; set aside.

Meanwhile, zest 1 orange and transfer zest to a small bowl; reserve orange. Toss parsnips, garlic, rosemary, cayenne, ½ cup oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon orange zest on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, tossing once halfway through, until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Toast hazelnuts on rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

Blend ricotta, 2 Tablespoons oil, and ½ teaspoon salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or use a whisk) until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Peel remaining orange. Slice into 1/4″ rounds, then cut into half-moons.

Juice reserved orange. Whisk vinegar, honey, pepper, 2 teaspoons orange zest, 3 Tablespoons orange juice, and remaining ¼ cup oil and 1 teaspoon salt in another large bowl until smooth.

Toss rice, parsnips mixture, lettuce, orange rounds, hazelnuts, and parsley in bowl with vinegar mixture. Spread ricotta mixture on a platter and arrange salad over. Serve immediately.

Chef’s Notes: Rice and parsnips can be prepared 2 days ahead; store in separate containers, cover, and chill. 

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