In the spirit of creativity and experimention, I've come up with this idea for a simple, but I hope, delicious rice salad. It would be briliant for a summer buffet, or served as a side dish. I know it's not exactly summer yet- or even really spring: as I write I'm looking out on to a cold, wet and miserable London Saturday morning.
I was playing around with flavour combinations the other day, and discovered that prawn and leeks make an excellent match when combined with the aniseedy tastes of fennel. Here's how to make it:
Chop up some leeks (giviing them a rinse and removing the tougher outer skin bits first) and sweat them gently in a saucepan with some butter. It's probably going to work best if the leeks are chopped up into small pieces. I also find that leeks go brown very quickly, so you need to watch these like a hawk. Try and keep that lovely, fresh verdant green colour. You could of course parboil the leeks first (plunging them very quickly into boiling water and rinsing off under a freezing cold tap) which should help to set the colour.
Into the hot pan goes some fennel seeds and then some good quality prawns. I used smallish frozen prawns, which, of course, are pre-cooked, so just need heating through after they have been defrosted. Check the seasoning and add sea salt and black pepper. Set to one side.
Boil rice in the usual way. I used Uncle Ben's Long Grain rice, which has had the starch removed, and won't go mushy. This is a good thing. Combine the rinsed rice with the leeks, prawn and fennel seeds. Mix in a simple vinagrette (a third olive oil, groundnut oil, a splash of wine or cider vinegar or lemon juice could be just the ticket) and serve cold. A garnish ('orrible word!) of chopped dill would work well with the fish and fennel.