Signs of spring are all around me. Crocuses are blooming and daffodils are pushing their way through the softening winter ground. Love is in the air evidenced by happy chirps and tweets from our avian friends that have made their way back home. Robins have been spotted in our bit of Ohio. I get excited this time of year thinking of the possibilities of what the season brings. One thing I love is gardening. I never really liked it much when I was a girl. The thought of having dirt under my finger nails made me cringe. I didn’t appreciate landscaping and gardening like I do today. Nowadays I anticipate spring, thinking about how to improve on my flower beds and more importantly what we will include in this years vegetable garden. Every year we plan, plant, cultivate, tend to, pick produce, make fresh salads, tomato sauce, and can a variety of items from our vegetable garden we share with my parents.
The garden was a big part of our life growing up. My Dad would plant one every year with rows of corn, beans, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and a variety of other plants all perfectly spaced out in wonderfully straight rows. It was a perfectionist dream and to me a thing of beauty. Over the years as one by one we left the nest of our parents home, the garden was abandoned. It lay there unfurrowed for several years and I began to miss it. The child that hated touching dirt was ready to pick up a spade and stand behind the rototiller (ready and willing but my Dad still won’t let me). I suggested to my Dad that we start a shared garden. We have kept it up over the past 5-6 years and we all enjoy it. From plowing the field with my grandpa’s tractor, picking out the plants at our local nurseries, to laying out the perfectly spaced rows we do it together and it truly is so enjoyable. I am not kidding about the perfectly straight rows either as you can see below. I will provide more details on our system later.
All of this combined, the signs of spring, the memories of past and the thoughts of future gardens made me start to crave a delicious salad my mom makes often in the summer. It is filled with vegetables, and packed with flavor. I could make a meal just out of a bowl of this rice salad and have done so many times over the years. Broccoli is the star, while lemons and aged parmesan are supporting standout characters that gives the salad a wonderful bite and a fragrant aroma that fills the house. This is also wonderful to make when asparagus is in season which can be used instead of broccoli. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large bunch broccoli
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 large carrot shredded
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Rinse rice well in cold water to remove any excess starch. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to large pot along with rinsed rice, stirring well to coat. Add 3 3/4 cup water to pot covering rice. Cook over low heat until rice has absorbed all water. Fluff with fork and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Wash and cut broccoli into florets and steam until broccoli is crisp tender. Allow to cool.
- Make dressing mixing 1/2 cup olive oil, grated lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper and set aside.
- Assemble salad. Mix cooled rice, cooled broccoli, chopped green onions, shredded carrot, diced red bell pepper, and parmesan cheese together.
- Pour dressing over salad mixing well.
- Serve, garnished with extra parmesan shavings, additional chopped green onions, and lemon zest as desired.