We all remember Melrose Place, yes? Because, I basically live there. We're a carbon copy of that show -- except we don't have a sweet Spanish-style palace. Nor do we have a gorgeous underlit pool. Oh, and none of our neighbors are backstabbing villainous types. But I do live right near Melrose Place and everyone in our building is an up-and-coming Hollywood type.
Theres the movie soundtrack composer upstairs whose scruffiness is directly proportional to how close he gets to finishing a new piece. The screenwriter next door who holes up except when she needs to take her blind, deaf dog on a walk or when she gives up quitting smoking and sits on the stoop smoking. And then the celebrity stylist chick who is always is carting around racks of clothing and looking way chic, even if shes just taking out her recycling. And I bow in and out of our little world, sometimes here for weeks on end then gone for even longer.
Despite my travels, I've become friendly enough with my neighbors to pick up each other's mail, water each other's plants, and go out for a meal every now and then. Two of our residents are moving out this month so it's sad in that end-of-summer-camp sort of way. We're getting together one last time for a little potluck and I decided to bring this salad because it's easy but always gets major compliments. It's a salad I turn to when I want a meal of a salad or when I've just made a lot of extra grains -- though I love it with wild rice it's equally awesome with quinoa, brown rice, or farro. So, while I don't think a hottie like Jake is bound to move in and I hope a hellish person like Dr. Michael won't become my neighbor, here's to hoping my little Melrose Place won't change too much.
plus extra for the tomatoes
white and pale green parts thinly sliced
leaves torn just before using
For the wild rice: Place 2 cups water in a small saucepan and bring a boil over high heat. Add a pinch of salt and stir in the wild rice. Bring everything back to a boil before reducing the heat to low to maintain a simmer. Cook until the rice is chewy and tender but the grain is still intact, about 35 to 45 minutes. Drain the rice in a sieve or fine mesh colander turn it onto a rimmed baking sheet and spread it out to cool. Meanwhile, make the dressing.
Save time by making the wild rice ahead of time (it can be made up to 4 days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use). You could also use another cooked whole grain such as quinoa or brown rice instead.
For the dressing: Combine the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, and a splash of water in a jar, close, and shake until well incorporated. To taste, dip a lettuce leaf in the dressing then add more sugar, salt, or pepper, as desired.
Depending on which vinegar and olive oil you use, your dressing may turn out a bit more or less tangy than mine was. Go ahead and adjust it to your liking by dipping a lettuce leaf in the dressing then tasting it.
For the salad: Halve the tomatoes and combine with a glug of oil and a pinch of salt, toss to coat, and set aside briefly, at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, tear the ciliegine mozzarella balls in half (or, if using one large piece of mozzarella, go ahead and dice it).
When ready to serve, arrange greens, tomatoes (without any juices), and scallions on a serving platter. Toss the cooked wild rice with half of the dressing then add to the salad. Top with mozzarella, pistachios, and mint, and serve with additional dressing on the side.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp