BLUEBERRY OR POMEGRANATE AND ALMOND RICE SALAD

Food From Friends, Salads

Makes about 4 cups (5 to 6 servings)

3 cups cooked long grain rice, chilled or at room temperature
3/4 to 1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh garlic
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 to 3 tsp olive oil (preferably garlic infused)
Salt to taste
1 cup fresh blueberries, pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries (see tips below)
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 to 1 1/3 tbsp mustard/herb vinaigrette (optional)

1. Toss rice, cumin and garlic together.

2. Whisk together mayonnaise and oil; drizzle over seasoned rice and toss to combine evenly. Add salt to taste.

3. Fold in fruit and parsley. Refrigerate for at least an hour if possible or until ready to use. (Note: The salad may be prepared to this point up to 8 hours in advance. If stored longer, the rice tends to toughen.)

4. Just before serving, add toasted almonds and toss. If desired, drizzle with vinaigrette according to taste and toss.

Tips:

* Serve this salad as an accompaniment to salmon, chicken, lamb or veal. For buffet and pot luck events, it imparts a tasty and original dimension to the menu.

* Blueberries create a mild but wonderfully refreshing salad particularly for summer entertaining.

* Pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries are particularly appropriate for the holiday season. 1 1/2 to 2 fresh pomegranates are required. Cut the fruit in half and carefully remove the seeds. Discard the skin and absolutely all bits of white pulp.