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Brown rice salad is flavorful, hearty, easy side dish

Belle’s Brown Rice, Tomato, and Herb Salad
Belle’s Brown Rice, Tomato, and Herb Salad
Brenda Stanley

Side dishes are often my favorite part of the meal. I love the flavors and textures of rice, beans, vegetables and other side-dish staples. I also love salads and all the fresh flavors and tasty dressings.

This brown rice, tomato and herb salad is a combination of side dish and salad that is a complimentary accompaniment for just about any simple main dish, such as grilled meat, chicken or fish. Brown rice has such a hearty, nutty flavor, and the dressing's tangy and sweet flavors combine to make this dish different but flavorful. Using packaged ready-to-serve rice is also a great way to keep cooking time down so you can enjoy the warm weather. This can be served hot or cold depending on the season or preference.

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BELLE'S BROWN RICE, TOMATO AND HERB SALAD

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 package (8.5 ounces) ready-to-serve brown rice

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

¼ cup chopped green onions

½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried basil

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, oil, salt and pepper to make a dressing.

In a saucepan, combine the rice, tomatoes, green onions and basil. Heat through. Stir in the dressing and mix well. Simmer for a couple minutes, then turn off the heat, cover and let stand. The longer it stands, the more the rice soaks up all that delicious dressing.

Serve warm or chilled.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins, and a grandmother of five. She is a cookbook author, including the recently released "Everyday Vegetarian" and novelist. Her website is at talesofthedinnerbelle.com.