Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I am day drinking whilst I write this. Happy Mexico kicked France's ass day!

Remember that one time that I had a blog and I totally forgot about it? Yeah. right. this one. right here. Sorry bout that. Anyway, I'm back now, and better than ever...or at least still just ok...I have however, moved into a new kitchen in Brooklyn and couldn't be happier. More counter space + bigger fridge + actual cabinet space to call my own = happy blogging.

So in case anyone hasn't gotten the memo by way of beautiful flowers, or chirping birdies or debilitating pollen allergies here is the official announcement. Spring has SPRUNG!

I'm not the hugest fan of this season. It's beautiful but deadly.  What I can say to its virtue however, is that spring makes for some delicious and really easy eats.  Spring's bounty is especially apparent in the lovely vegetation that begins in spring and proceeds through the summer months.  But what do you do with all of it? I mean I like vegetables, I really do, but I can't just sit around and munch on carrots all day.  If you can, then you are A. not happy and B. skinnier than I am, so screw you. 

A great way to showcase fresh vegetables in a super easy way is a pasta salad. But here's the thing...I don't really like pasta salad. The cold pasta never absorbs enough of the dressing leaving it bland, and if it does it makes the pasta limp, lifeless and mushy.  So if pasta is out, then that leaves us with grains or potatoes to stand in as a filler.  I choose grains, and more specifically I choose brown rice.

1. Because brown rice has a slightly nutty flavor all on its own and that's just tasty.
2. Potatoes are best left for fried preparations with fancy sauce for dipping
3. There are lots of grains that I might use for this (farro, quinoa, couscous) but I happen to have a bunch of boil in the bag brown rice leftover from the parent care package debacle, so that is what I'm using. I'm not a millionaire, if you are then you buy me some exotic grains to cook with...and a car.

So brown rice in hand, I pulled the spring bounty out of my fridge and this delicious salad came together faster than a fat kid to an all you can eat fried chicken buffet.  The marrying ingredient for the starch and the veg is a killer vinaigrette. Now I know we've discussed vinaigrettes before, but this one is a little different. Same basic idea, but the proportions have changed. Normally I would use 1 part acid to 2 parts fat, but when you're making something with a heavy grain in it, and you don't want that grain to end up tasting like cardboard, you need to up the ante on the flavor.  So I cut down on the fat and upped the acid quite a bit for this recipe.  It ends up being about 1 part acid to 1/2 part fat, but it makes for a zingy and tasty little dressing for your salad.

Another thing to keep in mind is that I used the veggies that I had at my easy disposal. You can use literally whatever you want as long as it can be eaten broccoli, carrots, onions, defrosted corn or peas, peppers...all good.  Potatoes, eggplant, or mushrooms (even though I know you CAN eat them raw) probably shouldn't make it into the bowl.  

So here is...

Pasta Salad Can Suck It Brown Rice and Vegetable Salad


2 cups (or one sad bag) of cooked brown rice (it's best if the rice is slightly warm -- it absorbs the dressing better this way)
1 small cucumber seeded and diced (just cut it in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds out with a spoon)
1 small yellow onion diced
1 large tomato seeded and diced (cut it in half and squeeze the seeds and juice out)
1 garlic clove minced
2 medium carrots diced
1 avocado cubed (cut and add your avocado last because if you let it sit out it will get brown and nasty. Once it's in the salad though it should be fine, because the acid in the vinaigrette will stop the browning)
1/3 block of feta cheese cubed (or a 1/4 cp of the crumbled business)
1/4 cp red wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 T mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 T sweet chili sauce (if you don't have this just use a little ketchup and a little honey with some red chili flakes)
1 T soy sauce
2 1/2 T olive oil

Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, chili sauce and soy sauce and whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream while whisking constantly to combine.  If you don't want to do this, and I don't know why you would, you can just put it all in a rubbermaid container and shake it to within an inch of its life.

Put all of the other ingredients in a rubbermaid container and pour the dressing over it.  It seems like a lot of dressing, but the rice will soak it up.  Toss to combine, making sure not to break up the avocado too much.  Chill for an hour and serve.

It gets better as it sits, is great on its own, and makes a pretty amazing side dish to most meals.  It's also super cheap to make.

So there is my triumphant return to the blogosphere. Oh also it's Cinco De Mayo. So here is a picture of me celebrating.

Comment, Follow, Subscribe, and Cook. See you soon!

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