Mushroom, Artichoke, Rice, Raisin, and Chicken Salad

I was skeptical the first time I saw a recipe similar to this one in an old French cookbook, but one afternoon I gathered all the ingredients and decided to give it a try. It’s a fantastic and unusual salad. This salad is interesting enough to serve as a first course, but you can also serve it as a side dish.

Makes 6 first-course servings

1/2 cup raisins or dried currants
12 baby artichokes, trimmed, or 1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained, or 1 (8-ounce) jar artichoke hearts
1 tablespoon lemon juice (only if using fresh artichokes)
1 cup cooked long-grain rice, preferably basmati
1 (1/8-inch-thick) slice cooked ham, cut into 1/8-inch cubes, or 2 cooked boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup cooked fresh baby peas or thawed and drained frozen peas
8 ounces small mushrooms, thinly sliced
20 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar, good-quality balsamic vinegar, or white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprigs of fresh basil or other herbs

1. Soak the raisins in 1/2 cup cold water for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Drain.

2. If you’re using fresh baby artichokes, simmer them in a nonaluminum pot with the lemon juice and enough water to cover by 2 inches until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, let cool, and cut in half from top to bottom.

3. Chop the basil leaves.

4. Combine the raisins, artichokes, rice, ham, peas, mushrooms, basil, oil, and vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Decorate with the sprigs of herbs. Pass at the table or serve in mounds on individual plates.

Vegetables Revised cookbook coverExcerpted from Vegetables Revised by James Peterson. Copyright © 2012 by James Peterson. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher.