For my latest Breathe Magazine post, I decided to head back to the
tattered old binder I hastily assembled Smart Family Cookbook in search of another light summer salad. Luckily I don’t just have one aunt with culinary prowess,* but two.
*culinary prowess [noun]: the ability to take others’ recipes and adapt them as your ownMy aunt Alston (not Wendy, as you would see if you had Spidey-vision,* is the person who’s name is actually attached to the recipe) first brought this salad to Thanksgiving a number of years ago, and what I remember most about it is how it tasted so good, I didn’t even want to eat Thanksgiving leftovers in favor of more of it. [You know it must have been good if I was turning down sweet potatoes.]
There are a number of “best things” about this salad. Not only is it perfect or taking to cookouts due to its chilled, no mayonnaise, crowd-pleasing existence, it’s also just a great light supper (or side dish) for those nights when it’s muggy and hot and the thought of eating anything above room temperature makes your stomach turn just a little bite.It is also more of an idea or a method, rather than a recipe, because the glory lies in the sum total of whatever vegetable ‘parts’ you happen to have waiting around, taking up valuable watermelon space in the fridge.The basic building blocks are a wild-and-brown-rice blend (made by Lundberg Family Farms), shredded carrots, and shredded red cabbage.I imagine this has something to do with the fact that you can’t call it a rice salad if you leave out the rice…and cabbage and carrots are generally really cheap.
You can chop carrots if you want, but while you’re already shredding up cabbage–which is way more cost efficient that buying it pre-shredded, even if you do end up with quite the excess of Barney-approved cruciferousness in your fridge afterwards–
Of course, giving Miss Smart a food processor is like giving a mouse a cookie, and so if she’s going to shred carrots……well, THEN she’s going to have to shred the green cabbage she has left over in the crisper drawer too.
But I digress.
We were talking about versatility, and the ability to mix and match your vegetables as your taste (and leftovers…because this is the perfect use for them) dictate. You don’t even need to use wild rice. The original recipe simply called for cooked, chilled brown rice.
But there is a certain amount of excitement and flair that comes along with adding wild to the front of it, isn’t there?The only thing I would NOT recommend is putting the rice in the pot and forgetting to add water and actually turn on the stove.To your rice and veggies, add some minced garlic and chopped fresh parsley or cilantro…… along with a simple ‘dressing’ of lemon juice and low-sodium tamari. Stir it all up and prepare to serve! [It tastes better after it has been in the fridge awhile...and you should also factor about 10-15 minutes of just sort of marveling in how beautiful it looks in the bowl to the overall prep time required.]Alston generally adds tomatoes and avocado just before serving, but, well, I used up all my avocado over the weekend, so…oops.*