Are you distressed by the prospect of putting rice into a lettuce-based salad? Don’t worry. It’s great.

The only distressing thing about this salad is the surprising thickening power of fenugreek. Let the dressing sit long enough and it looks like hair conditioner.

I didn’t know what fenugreek powder tasted like until I was home over Christmas and took it upon myself to taste the unknown spices in the Amber Waves bulk spice case. (On that note, as a bored child who idly used to fill vitamin capsules with these bulk spices and string them together into necklaces, I did not realize how rare bulk spice cases are. My current needs are not met by the sizes of standard spice bottles.) If you’d like my hazy description of the spice before you rush out and invest in a bottle, here goes: sweet, musty. On a whim I put a little in a wax bag and brought it home.

There are lots of real Indian recipes that call for fenugreek in some form, but what I have today is a fake Indian recipe, the perfect accompaniment to some dal, or chicken tikka kebabs. Last week we had it with poached salmon on top; that’s good too. Basically, if you’ve ever mixed your rice and your salad together and liked what you found, this is the salad for you.

Why yes, I did overcook the basmati.

Basmati Romaine Salad with Lime Fenugreek Vinaigrette
serves two as a big side dish

1/2 C cooked basmati (Great if you have leftover rice; if not just boil some up. The white basmati cooks fast.)
1/2 an English cucumber
2 scallions, thinly sliced
5 or so leaves of romaine, sliced into 1 cm strips

juice of 1/2 a lime (around 1 T)
2 T canola oil
3/4 t fenugreek
1/4 t honey
1/4 t salt

First, taste the fenugreek so you know what flavor you’re trying to feature.

In a large bowl, break up the rice gently until there are no big clumps. Your hands are the best tool for this. Halve the cucumber the long way, and then halve those halves again. Now you have four long cucumbers. Dice those into 1 cm pieces. Add the cucumbers to the rice, along with the scallions and the romaine. Toss together.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining five ingredients. The fenugreek will help emulsify the dressing. Taste it once you’re done whisking; the fenugreek flavor should be quite noticeable, so if it isn’t add more. Add the dressing to the salad and toss. Pluck out a leaf and taste it for salt. Serve immediately and crunch away.