All winter long, we’ve been dreaming of backyard barbeques and picnics in the park. Now that spring is here, we can finally dust off our sunhats and venture out for some socially distanced get-togethers with friends and family.

Danielle Alvarez, head chef at Fred’s in Paddington, has created a simple recipe to take along: Crispy Rice Spring Salad. Alvarez is a master at elevating simple ingredients. Her new cookbook Always Add Lemon, is all about that philosophy: recipes you actually want to cook and food you actually want to eat.

Full of zesty flavours and fresh spring greens, Alvarez’s easy-to-prepare salad is inspired by Seedlip’s Spice 94 & Grapefruit Tonic, a new ready-to-drink non-alcoholic spirit featuring notes of allspice, cardamom, oak, cascarilla bark and citrus. “I thought that spiciness would pair really well with the curry-flavoured vinaigrette,” she says.

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The vegetarian salad is a solid standalone dish, but it also works well served with grilled meat and prawns at a barbeque, says Alvarez.

In this dish, texture is everything. “It’s all about different levels of crunch,” says the chef. “For the crispy rice, you cook it the day before, and then you dry it out in your fridge overnight – it could be your leftover rice from dinner. Fry it in a pan, and it gets this beautiful, chewy, crunchy texture. I love throwing things like that into a salad.”

If you haven’t got any pre-cooked rice on hand, don’t despair. Make a fresh pot of rice and “dry it out in a low oven”, says Alvarez.

When it comes to making the vinaigrette, go easy on the oil – less is more. “A good vinaigrette has a ratio that is three parts oil to one part acidity, or even two to one,” says Alvarez. “And dress it a little less, so it doesn’t taste so oily.” Don’t forget to add a good pinch of salt, either. “That’s how you taste all the different things. If you forget the salt in the vinaigrette, it’s going to be a little flat.”

Bonus: this dish is easily transportable. Pack your pre-prepared salad ingredients in a container, mix the vinaigrette in a jar and put it all together when you arrive at your destination. “It’s super easy,” says Alvarez.

Crispy Rice Spring Salad
Serves 4
Prep time: 30 minutes (if cooking rice ahead of time, leave in fridge overnight to dry out first)

Ingredients
80g dried rice
50ml olive oil
70g podded blanched peas (frozen and thawed is fine)
120g podded blanched broad beans (frozen and thawed is fine)
100g thinly shaved fennel (about ½ a large head of fennel)
40g pistachios
40g sultanas
1 small head lettuce, such as baby cos
Mint and coriander to garnish
Salt (to taste)

Curry vinaigrette
5g curry powder
15g honey (about 1 tsp)
25ml white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
½ a shallot, peeled and sliced thinly (approx. 25g)
Pinch of salt

Method
Cook your rice according to package instructions and then allow to cool. Spread it out on a tray or plate and leave uncovered in your fridge overnight to dry out. If you need to make this today, cook the rice and spread it out on a tray and place in an oven at 125°C for 15 minutes to dry out. Set aside.

Heat a wide non-stick or cast-iron pan over medium/high heat and add the olive oil. Spread the rice on the pan and fry until browned and crispy, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir it every so often so it cooks evenly (be careful, as they rice kernels can pop while cooking). Remove from the pan and drain on a plate with paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

Toast your pistachios in a 175°C oven for 10 minutes until lightly golden, then roughly chop. Set aside.

Place your sultanas in a small bowl and pour boiling water or your hottest tap water over them and soak for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Mix all your vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine. Set aside.

To assemble: Place your lettuce leaves on the bottom of a platter and then mix all the salad ingredients together and combine with vinaigrette and a good pinch of salt. Spoon this over the lettuce, then garnish with fresh coriander and mint leaves.

Note: you can mix everything except the salad leaves together and dress ahead of time.

Serve the premixed Seedlip Spice 94 & Grapefruit Tonic RTD cold straight from the can, or pour in a tumbler glass over ice, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Seedlip.