Sunday, July 4, 2010

Theresa’s Improvisational Michigan Salad

Many of you, like me are off to Fourth of July picnics. I eat outdoors as much as possible. We also attend lots of evening concerts throughout the summer. In the Grand Rapids area, one could go to a free concert almost every night Monday through Thursday in the summer months. After work, we grab some food and head out with our camp chairs.

Over the past couple of years, I have developed the following recipe that I take on road trips and to picnics. I first learned about improvisational cooking with Michigan veggies from my brother-in-law Fred – a talented cook. For improvisational cooking, you take a basic formula and add in whichever vegetables and herbs are in season here in Michigan at the time. Since we head out soon after work for concerts, I often cook the beans and rice (in separate pans) over my lunch break. (I am lucky that I work from home.) Then, before we leave I add in the rest of the ingredients. But, this recipe will hold in the fridge if I make it the day before. Here’s how it goes.

Theresa’s Improvisational Michigan Salad
Cooked rice (use ½ cup uncooked)
1 cup cooked beans
1/8 cup light tasting cooking oil
1.5 - 2 cups chopped vegetables
Seasoning/herbs/spices to taste

I use brown basmati rice, because I like the “nutty” flavor. Sometimes, I use a Creole seasoning rub/mix as the seasoning. Recipes are available online, but you may want to cut back on the salt. There are plenty of beans grown in Michigan.

Along with the basmati rice, today, I used some organic adzuki beans that I had on hand. I don’t know if these beans were grown in Michigan, but according to the MI Bean Commission website, they can be grown here. I used small handfuls of chopped garlic scape and basil. I included ½ cup of dried (2009) cherry tomatoes that I soaked in warm water for a few minutes, and then chopped. The other vegetable that I used was corn kernels (frozen last year). At the end, I added salt and pepper; then a pinch of cayenne for a bit of zip. So, you see that you can make this even when you don’t have a lot of fresh vegetables around.

I am looking forward to testing a “Mexican” version with green bell peppers, hot peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Another idea is an “Italian” version with raw zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and lots of fresh Italian herbs. The ideas are endless for this recipe. Give it a try.

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