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. The trick of quickly boiling rice makes this recipe more weeknight-friendly.
3/4 cup short-grain brown rice
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more, divided
2 large oranges, divided
1 bunch (about 1 1/2 pounds) parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/4" coins
1 garlic clove, smashed
4 sprigs rosemary
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 heads Little Gem lettuce or baby romaine hearts, torn into bite-size pieces (about 6 cups)
1/2 cup whole parsley leaves
- Arrange a rack in center of oven; preheat to 450°F. Mix rice, 1 Tbsp. 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, 1/2 cup oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. 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 Tbsp. oil, and 1/2 tsp. 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 tsp. orange zest, 3 Tbsp. orange juice, and remaining 1/4 cup oil and 1 tsp. 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.
Rice and parsnips can be prepared 2 days ahead; store in separate containers, cover, and chill.