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Rice Salad

To make this salad, cook rice ahead, dress it with just the lemon juice, and let stand loosely covered until you are ready to serve. Then simply add the rest of the ingredients and the olive oil, and serve.

2 cups arborio rice

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3 cups water or mild chicken stock,

preferably unsalted

1 teaspoon salt or to taste (omit if stock is salted)

1/2 cup minced onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup capers, drained

3 to 4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped

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1/2 cup packed, finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste

Rinse rice thoroughly, drain well in a sieve; set aside. Heat water or stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, then leave simmering until needed.

Place a heavy medium-size pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, toss in the minced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent.

Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the grains become opaque, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the hot water or stock and the salt if using, and stir gently until the liquid comes to a boil. Cover tightly, lower the heat to very low, and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes without stirring.

Turn the rice out into a large bowl to help it cool, gently breaking up any lumps with your fingers or with a wooden spoon.

Add the lemon juice and gently toss to mix. Cover with a cotton cloth and let cool.

When ready to serve, add the capers, chopped tomatoes, the optional parsley, and the extra-virgin olive oil to the rice and toss gently to mix. Taste for salt and add as necessary.

Transfer to a serving bowl, grind black pepper over the top, and serve.

Serves 4.

Oaxacan Rice Pudding

All flavors seem more intense and complex in Oaxaca, from the chocolate atole to the mole sauces. This rice pudding packs a pleasant extra bit of flavor from the ginger that simmers with the rice.

6 cups whole milk

1/2 cup medium or

long-grain rice, broken (with a rolling pin)

2-inch cinnamon stick

1/2-inch ginger root

2 small strips lime zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

1/4 cup raisins

Place the milk, rice, cinnamon stick, ginger, lime zest, salt, and sugar in a large heavy non-aluminum pot. Heat almost to a boil; lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove cinnamon, ginger, and zest.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks. Stir in about 1/2-cup of the cooked rice mixture, then mix it back into the rice pot. Add the raisins, reserving a few for garnish. Transfer to a large shallow ovenproof dish and bake 10 to 20 minutes, until the eggs have set. Let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, in individual bowls garnished with reserved raisins. Serves 6.

- Based on recipes from 'Seductions of Rice' (Artisan)

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