With the weather finally warming up a little, I have got a couple of salads for you this week, but because it is not quite summer yet, they are quite hearty ones with plenty of filling pulses and grains. The other thing they have in common is the unusual salad ingredient of crispy fried onions. I used these on this blog, back in May last year in a Baby Spinach, Wild Rice, Broad Bean, Grilled Asparagus & Courgette Salad. These super delicious crispy onions liven up all manner of salads and the oil can be incorporated in the dressing, working particularly well with rice, lentils or grains.
Crispy Fried Onions
Thinly slice a few large onions. Cut off the top end of the onion and peel the rest of it. Slice as thin as possible. A Mandolin is really good for this or you can use a food processor. Place a saucepan on a high heat and add about an inch of vegetable oil. You don’t want to use too much oil as the more intense the flavour the better. Heat the oil to 180⁰C using a thermometer. Add the onions slowly and carefully and deep fry until light golden brown. Be careful not to burn, stirring regularly, especially in the corners where the onions will cook most quickly. Remove with a slotted spoon, straight into a colander lined with kitchen paper over a bowl. Break up any clumps and leave to crisp up. Season lightly with salt. When cool pour the oil into a bottle for further use.
Saffron Basmati Rice Salad with Lentils, Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Fried Onions
Crispy Fried Onions
100g lentils (I used Puy lentils but you can use any)
150g Basmati rice
A pinch of saffron
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. cumin seeds
Small bunch of coriander
Rinse your basmati rice for 10 minutes or so until the water runs clear. Cover with an inch and a half of water, a good pinch of salt and a generous pinch of saffron. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until tender. Add more water during cooking if necessary. When cooked, drain and refresh in cold water. This is a salad and it is important that the rice is fluffy and separated. Allow to drain again for at least an hour, if not more. Cook the lentils very gently in plenty of water for about 15-20 minutes until tender. You want them to still have a little bite and texture. Drain for at least half an hour. Meanwhile roast your cauliflower. Cut it into even size florets and toss in a little of the onion oil, plenty of salt, freshly ground pepper and the cumin seeds. Mix well and lay out in a single layer in a roasting pan. Roast in the middle of the oven at 200°C (400°F) for 20 minutes, then give them a good toss to ensure even cooking. Roast for 10 minutes more or until the edges are brown and crunchy. In a bowl mix the rice with some of the onion oil, plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Immediately you will taste the great combination of saffron and subtle onion flavours. Add the lentils and cauliflower and check for seasoning. Add a handful of crispy onions, saving some for the top. Pick the leaves from the coriander and mix through the salad. Pile onto a serving plate and heap crispy onions on top.