Red Rice and Apple Salad in Romaine Spears

Red Rice and Apple Salad with Romaine spears

Early Autumn Light

Artisan Romaine

“Another man, but he was crazy, said that someday there’d be a way, maybe ice, maybe some other way, to get a peach like this here I got in my hand clear to Philadelphia.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck


The morning light had just climbed past the horizon. A patchwork quilt of chartreuse, emerald, scarlet and a violet tinged sage green blanketed the view from Spreckels to the south-western city limits of Salinas. The sheen of iridescent fall light lingered on Tanimura and Antle’s fields of Artisan® Lettuces and Artisan® Sweet Broccoli. I was charmed by the vibrant fields bursting with stellar produce just ten minutes from my home. Tanimura and Antle is a company rich in the history of agriculture in the Salinas Valley. Leaders in agricultural innovation and growth three generations of the Tanimura and Antle families have farmed the valley making a strong contribution to the wide variety of fresh produce we enjoy at the grocery store today.

Although it will do in a pinch, I am not fond of bagged lettuces or pre-packaged salad kits. Lettuce that is still attached to it’s core is fresher and retains more nutrients. Still flush with moisture these lettuces are more flavorful. And unlike bagged lettuce, freshly harvested head lettuce has not been rinsed in chlorine or placed in a MAP bag or container to lengthen shelf life. I was pleased to learn that Tanimura and Antle hand cuts and then packages their lettuce in the field. The freshly packaged lettuce is transported from the field to the cooler without any stops at a processing plant. The harvest of all things green in Salinas Valley winds down in the month of October. By Thanksgiving lettuce will be harvested further south in California and then later in Yuma, Arizona. There is no turning back; it is autumn.

Preparing Red Rice Salad


I developed this recipe just for Tanimura and Antle’s Artisan Romaine. These little heads of romaine are a spirited lettuce. With a nod to the Salinas Valley’s heritage of crisp iceberg lettuce and flavor that is sweeter than regular romaine I have found a new favorite. Artisan Romaine makes a mighty fine updated wedge or chopped salad but it shines as a crunchy scoop or wrapper for all manner of savories. Dips, wraps, tacos and any type of scoopable salad would happily nestle inside a leaf of crisp Artisan Romaine.

The Red Rice and Apple Salad is fresh and filling without being heavy. With a light whisper of dressing from the Honey Mustard Vinaigrette and a serious variety of crunch from romaine, apple, celery and pecan, layers of flavor make this an enticing vegetarian meal. My jaded taste testers both recommend this salad. While Mr. R kept scooping more, picky daughter had leftovers for lunch the next day. Use very fresh, small leaves of romaine lettuce. It must be crisp enough to add crunch and to hold and eat the salad. Pack any leftovers on a bed of chopped romaine the next day for lunch; the salad will still be fresh and vibrant.

Artisan Romaine

Red rice is a revelation in nutrition and color. It only takes twenty minutes to cook and has a sweet nutty flavor. At room temperature and even the next day the red rice retains it’s firm texture. Cook the red rice until just a few of the grains begin to burst open, but not until the rice becomes mushy. Cool the red rice throughly before making the rest of the salad. With a red and green palette the Red Rice and Apple Salad in Romaine Spears would be a healthy and elegant addition to any holiday meal.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
2T apple cider vinegar
2T olive oil
2T grape seed or avocado oil
1T honey
1t French style mustard, such as Grey Poupon
1/2t fine grain sea salt
1/4t ground black pepper
Red Rice and Apple Salad
1/3C pecans
3 small Gala or Honey Crisp apples
1 lemon, juiced
2C red rice cooked, cooled (1 cup uncooked)
1/3C finely minced red onion
1/2C thinly sliced celery
1/2C dried cherries
1 head Artisan Romaine lettuce or other small romaine lettuce

Red Rice and Apple Salad with Romaine Spears

  1. In a small bowl add the apple cider vinegar and while whisking; slowly pour in the olive oil and then the grape seed oil to emulsify. Whisk in the honey, mustard, salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oven to 350°. Spread the pecans across the surface of a sheet pan and toast for 8-10 minutes until they are fragrant and turn a deep mahogany brown. Cool and then chop.
  3. Dice the apples in 1/3 inch small bite sized pieces. Place the chopped apples in a small bowl with the juice of a lemon and enough water to cover completely. Drain the apples just before mixing the salad ingredients together.
  4. In a medium sized bowl add the cooled red rice, pecans, red onion, celery, dried cherries and drained apples. Fold together to combine. Add the Honey Mustard Vinaigrette and throughly mix together.
  5. Remove the individual leaves from the head of romaine lettuce, rinse and spin or pat dry. Serve a small scoop of Red Rice and Apple Salad in each spear of lettuce. Or chop the romaine in 3/4” wide slices and serve the salad atop the bed of lettuce.
Field of Artisan Romaine
Field of Artisan Romaine near Salinas, California
Artisan Lettuce
Field of Artisan Lettuce near Salinas, California
Artisan Sweet Broccoli
Field of Artisan Sweet Broccoli near Salinas, California

A visit to Tanimura and Antle’s lettuce and broccoli fields between their home office in Spreckels and south-west Salinas was a magnificent morning adventure. I was given Artisan Romaine and Artisan Sweet Broccoli for recipe testing. This is not a sponsored post; the recipe and opinions are my own.

38 Replies to “Red Rice and Apple Salad in Romaine Spears”

  1. what a beautiful starter! you know, i’m not a fan of bagged lettuce either: sometimes in the midwest (depending on the season and what i need for a recipe) it’s unavoidable to get the packaged variety, but when i can, i like the farmers’ market sort, or at least the whole shebang versus the pre-handled stuff. that photos of the artisan lettuces is gorgeous…makes me want to run through all that purple and green. 🙂

  2. I agree about those packaged leaves, they can be easy to use, but nothing will ever compare to the freshly picked thing. Your pics are amazing, love the way the light reflects on the lettuce Deb! I will go hunting for red rice, this salad sound perfect for me.

  3. Beautiful presentation, Deb! I’ve seen this kind of food presentation in some restaurants, where they use the large individual leaves/spears as a serving bed for a small scoop of something yummy. Just like in this recipe – this belongs in a fancy restaurant! 🙂

  4. These photos are just beautiful! I had no idea that the some lettuce was treated with such harsh measures. This salad sounds like the perfect way to celebrate such a naturally perfect produce. Beautiful recipe.

    1. Thank you Kate! All “bagged” lettuce and salad mixes are treated to reduce harmful bacteria/pathogens and lengthen shelf life. On occasion, I purchase bagged lettuce, but it is not my favorite. I find lettuce still attached to it’s core to be more flavorful and fresh tasting.

  5. Beautiful light in your photos-I don’t think romaine lettuce has ever looked so appealing both on the counter and in the fields 😉 I could live on fresh salads like this one you’ve created-just a beauty Deb 😉

  6. Thank you for sharing about Artisan. I’m so happy to know about it. This is such a gorgeous collection of ingredients and that light shining through the lettuce leaves is so pretty!

  7. This is my kind of salad Deb! I discovered red rice myself just a few months back and I love its nutty bite and flavor. Perfect in a salad. I am not at all surprised that your daughter ate the leftovers for the lunch the next day. I’d have probably beat her to it by breakfast time though. 🙂 How blessed you are to live near such beautiful fields of produce.

  8. Gorgeous pictures and a vibrant and delicious sounding recipe. By husband and used to eat lettuce wraps from our favourite Chinese restaurant lots when we were at university. I want to try your pretty recipe out, I think it’ll be a big hit x

    1. Thank you for the gracious comment Denna! Lettuce wraps are underrated. The key is to use the freshest lettuce possible.

    1. Thank you Laura! Red rice was a pleasant surprise, quick to prepare and lots of great nutty flavor!

  9. Deb, just like the freshness I’ve been enjoying from the apples we picked right from tree, I can imagine that freshly harvested lettuce must taste like a whole different animal from the bagged lettuce I usually pick up at the market. This salad, with its crunch from the apple, nuts, and romaine, and the tangy bite from the mustardy vinaigrette, is the perfect combination of flavors and textures. And I must say, your photographs are just beautiful.

    1. Thank you Mary! Your lovely comment brightened my day! I agree, there really is a difference with freshly harvested lettuce!

  10. This is just lovely, as always. I’m intrigued by the red rice, which I have yet to try and love the idea of serving it with/in romaine. I am still looking forward to a chance to meet and cook with you. I think I might want a photography lesson too :-). Beautiful. Fave shot might be the lettuce in the window.

    1. Oh Beth! Thank you so much for the gracious comment, much appreciated! The red rice was a revelation, it cooks much faster than brown and has a lovely nutty flavor and of course color!

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