May is always a month of chocolate for me – both my husband’s and my birthdays are in May, along with five other family members (plus both of our cats) and everyone is a chocolate fan. For my husband, I made a truly scrumptious triple chocolate mousse cake, and for myself I made ganache filled “ultimate” chocolate cupcakes. Both recipes came from Cook’s Illustrated and turned out fantastic. If you would like a copy of either then let me know! The mousse is (naturally) gluten-free and I adapted the cupcake recipe to be gluten-free.
Due to my sweet-filled month, for my first demo in a while I thought it might be good to prepare and share a more wholesome recipe, and I found it in Tracy Hill’s cookbook Delightfully Free (she’ll be at Seattle’s Pike Place market today signing copies, and you can also buy it at the Cordata store). Not only are the photos mouth-watering, but the recipes are pretty awesome too, and they are all gluten, dairy, and refined sugar-free! I knew when I saw the photo for this salad that I wanted to prepare it – it would be a great salad to bring to a graduation party or BBQ, and would also serve as a well-rounded main course because of the combination of brown rice, beans, nuts/seeds, and vegetables.
We’re still at the beginning of our growing season here in the great Northwest, but I was able to purchase some local garlic scape to use instead of the green onions in the original recipe – I sliced them very thin (garlic scapes are typically cooked, but if you don’t overdo it then they are great in a salad) and they added just the right amount of fresh tasting garlicy-ness. We have local basil in stock, and I also used some of the local roasted hazelnuts that we carry in our bulk department.
The salad was very popular with customers and those that tasted it wanted to know how soon they could buy it pre-made in the deli (I did give a sample to our Cordata Deli Manager with the feedback…hopefully you’ll see our version soon!). I’ve included instructions on how to cook brown rice and beans from scratch, but you can always grab some pre-cooked rice from the Deli’s Grab and Go section and a can of beans to cut down on your time in the kitchen.
Balsamic Rice and Bean Salad
adapted from Delightfully Free by Tracy Hill
- 1 1/2 c cooked (and cooled) brown rice
- 1 1/2 c navy or cannellini beans, cooked from dry or 1 can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 c chopped celery (I sliced them pretty thin)
- 1 1/2 c chopped yellow or orange bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
- 1/3 c chopped green onion or garlic scapes
- 1/2 c fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped (or chiffonade cut)
- 1 c halved cherry tomatoes
- 3/4 c Balsamic Dressing, or more to taste
- 2/3 c chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, and/or pumpkin seeds
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (makes about 1 1/2 c)
- 1/4 c red wine vinegar
- 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 c grapeseed oil
- 1/8 t sea salt
- 1 t agave nectar
- 1 small garlic clove, pressed or minced
- 2 T water
- Small pinch of paprika
- Pinch of xanthan gum
- Shake all dressing ingredients together, except xanthan gum, in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add the xanthan gum and shake again. For smoother flavors, emulsify the dressing by mixing all ingredients, except xanthan gum, in a blender on high for 30 seconds. Add the xanthan gum and blend again for 10 seconds. Store in the refrigerator.
- In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients, with the exception of the nuts/seeds and dressing.
- Toss salad with about 3/4 cup of dressing (or more if you like!) – be sure to give it a few good shakes to re-mix.
- Sprinkle the salad with the nuts/seeds when it is served, or you can mix them in just before serving.
Note from the cookbook author — This salad is extra tasty made a day ahead of time (keep the nuts/seeds set aside until you serve). It is also a great topper for green salad.
Note from the Sassy Sampler – Customers commented that this salad would be great with parboiled green beans or with feta cheese sprinkled on top…and I agree!
To cook short grain brown rice:
Thoroughly rinse 3/4 c rice. Add to a small bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid and cover with 1.5 cups of water and sprinkle about 1/2 t of sea salt. Allow to come to a boil and then cover with the lid, turn heat down to low and allow to cook undisturbed for 1 hour. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes, remove the lid, fluff, and enjoy!
To cook navy/cannellini beans:
Note—beans will expand to 2.5 times their normal size, so you will only need to cook 1/2 c beans for this recipe
- Go through the beans on a plate to remove any stones, dirty or damaged beans, etc.
- Pour the beans into a medium bowl and cover with water—remove any “floaters”.
- Drain beans and cover with at least 1 1/2 c of COLD water. Soak the beans overnight (you can do this on the counter), or at least six hours.
- Rinse the beans three or four times until the water runs clear.
- Put beans in a pot and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 60-90 minutes, until beans are tender. Add salt (if desired) only in the last few minutes of cooking time or your beans will take longer to cook.
- Cooked beans are best the next day and can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Visit Tracy’s website at www.delightfullyfree.com and check out her cookbook of the same name!