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Rice salad - I'm being tested by my MIL

We have been summoned (not invited, but told our presence was expected) to the in-law's for an early New Year's Eve dinner.

I asked, as I was raised to do, what we could bring.

MIL has responded with a text - "rice salad". I asked her for preferences - hot/cold, any ingredients I should include/exclude, etc. Nope. No clues.
In 5 years, I have never been served rice salad at their house. DH never remembers his mom making or serving rice salad. His overall feeling is that this a test. (MIL isn't my biggest fan.)
We are in the UK, if that makes a difference to anyone who might have a clue as to what this woman is expecting me to bring. I'm kind of wavering between wild rice/nuts/fresh herbs/celery? and something with a Moroccan vibe.
I know from prior experience with their palates that onions, garlic, strong dressings, cilantro, anything too spicy will not be welcomed.
Any suggestions appreciated. In the meantime, I will be hitting the cookbooks!

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    1. "salad" to me implies not hot, but i prefer these things room temp vs. refrigerator cold. i'd bring everything separate and combine all the ingredients and toss with dressing when you get to the party, so nothing goes soggy and the flavors and colors remain distinct and vibrant.

      keep it simple if that's the room to which you will be playing. moroccan might not be the way to go. :)

      curly parsley for texture with baby yellow grape tomatoes, cut in 1/2 and a sharp lemony dressing.

      frozen peas and chopped mint and scallions with a thin yogurt dressing or an orange vinaigrette.

      dried cranberries, spiced pecans, tangerine segments.

      i wouldn't do more than a few ingredients for these peeps. good luck.

      1. I'd bring three very different and phenomenal rice salads. I would smile as I said "You didn't specify which kind you wanted." (I also deal with a difficult family member.)

        7 Replies
        1. re: weezieduzzit

          but that can backfire, too (Well, you didn't need to show off...and What are we going to do with THREE salads? and Couldn't you make a decision?)

          Passive-aggressive knows no bounds (happily, I'm no longer married to that family)

          1. re: sunshine842

            Is it at all possible she meant, or will claim to have typed, "nice salad" .. ?

            1. re: blue room

              Can you imagine if she did have a type-o? It could be though, since her son has never had a rice salad at his parents.

              I would call and double check it out.

              www.saffron215.blogspot.com

              1. re: mcel215

                'rice' salad was confirmed via phone call. She's evil.

                1. re: tacosandbeer

                  LOL! That is just the best/worst. I'm seriously laughing out loud and my husband is looking at me funny... and now HE'S laughing!

          2. re: weezieduzzit

            ... and make one of the options glorified rice -- rice, Cool Whip, canned pineapple, and maraschino cherries!

          3. I make one that is always well recieved. I don't care for rice so I use the tiny pasta that looks like rice. Cook it al dente very important. I make a balsamic and olive oil dressing and add fresh garlic to the dressing (you can omit). I love dried cherries, so that goes in, pinon nuts, fresh parsley, scallion, and tiny grape tomatoes. You don't have to stick to my ingredient list, its one of those salads where your own creativity can work. It's best the next day, and it can be served cold or room temperature.
            I first had this salad a very well loved and respected winery here in CA. I pretty much just copied and asked the servers what was in it. They used cranberries, but the one thing that's theirs exact is the dressing. I swear I've recieved the nicest compliments. Whatever you decide, Good Luck to you!!! Happy New Year!

            6 Replies
            1. re: chef chicklet

              Tiny pasta is orzo. It's silkier than rice and very nice. Good suggestion and I'd bet her MIL won't know the difference! (Unless she's gluten intolerant!)

              1. re: rccola

                OMG, I had a brain hiccup! Thank you for correcting my "tiny pasta" bit. That is so much more helpful for the OP!!!

                1. re: rccola

                  Are you kidding? OP feels she is being tested and you want her to made a substitution for what was requested?

                  I like finely chopped carrots, peas, maybe some red pepper in an asian inspired sesame oil/soy dressing.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    Easy there, tiger:

                    1. I was helping chicklet out

                    2. odds are MIL won't know the diff

                    1. re: rccola

                      Thank you mm. I think you caught that I was only mentioning my preference.

                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        I hope you don't think I was meaning that you were insisting orzo be used. I was just trying to help, reacting to how I feel when I can't think of a fairly common word.

              2. I'd go for the wild rice/nuts/fresh herbs/celery, with maybe some dried cranberries to be festive.

                A Moroccan vibe is going to run full-tilt into garlic, onions, and spicy. (maybe that's what you want)

                I wish you strength.

                7 Replies
                  1. re: salsailsa

                    I have an awesome wild rice salad recipe if she would like to try it.

                    1. re: Leepa

                      The rest of us would, even if she's decided by now.
                      I'm always up for a new wild rice recipe.

                      1. re: bbqboy

                        This is the wild rice salad served at the now closed but very popular Blue Moon Bakery/Cafe in Asheville, NC.

                        1 pound wild rice
                        1 cup dried cranberries
                        1 cup dried apricots, sliced
                        1 cup almond slivers -- toasted (I often used pecans)
                        1 bunch green onions -- chopped
                        1 red bell pepper -- chopped
                        3/4 red onion -- chopped

                        3/4 jar mango chutney
                        4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
                        1/4 red onion
                        1/2 cup oil (your choice, I use grapeseed)
                        salt and pepper -- to taste

                        Cook rice with 1 bay leaf and salt to taste and drain well.
                        Combine cranberries, almonds, apricots, green onions, red peppers, red onions, and mix with rice.
                        In food processor put mango chutney, vinegar, red onion & puree. Add oil in at last minute.
                        Combine dressing with rice mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.
                        Cool and serve.

                        Makes enough to serve about 15 people.

                        1. re: Leepa

                          Thanks! Looks wonderful. Totally different flavors/ingredients than I'm used to with Wild Rice.

                          1. re: Leepa

                            Sounds like a great rec, thanks!

                      2. re: salsailsa

                        okay now wild rice, that's a whole different story. Love it! and this sounds delicious!