Yellow Rice & Bean Salad
Full disclosure: for the last three days I have subsisted on a diet of oyster crackers, Cap’n Crunch, english muffins and Vitamin water. Sometime after a predictably raucous Thanksgiving and a weekend celebration one of my best friend’s weddings, but just before I realized it was too late, I got a stomach bug that pretty much brought me to my knees. Our plans to try that Mexican restaurants my parents have been raving about? Probably not going to happen. The risotto Francesco made the other night? Didn’t even taste it. My mom’s stuffed pork tenderloin? I managed one bite before laying my head on the table in despair. Then rolling off my chair onto the floor. To make a point, of course. And because it just felt better down there.
On the one hand, it’s horrible to be sick when there’s so much I want to do and so many American things I want to eat. But on the other, there’s no better place to be sick, in my opinion, than my mother’s house. What with her ability to leave work and be at my bedside (bucketside) in 30 seconds flat, the abundance of bathrooms mere footsteps away, and the cat who delights in sleeping aaaalllll day long in the crook of my fevered, sweaty little arm.
And so, in light of my hitting the fourth day of my white-and-bland diet in which the most exciting ration is the smear of butter on my toast I think it’s appropriate that I chose today to tell you about this colorful, satisfying salad. Even the rice is bright and vibrant. All the better to offset the color of my face, a color my parents have taken to describing as “gray” or “pale” or “not pretty.” Don’t worry about it. As long as they step over me on their way to the kitchen.
What is pretty, though, is this salad. We made this the other week to counter our constant overindulging, but it’s really a summertime staple around these parts. My mom cut the recipe out of a Bon Appétit about ten years ago and it has been making very modified reappearances ever since. My mother cut out the roasted red peppers in the original and added a whole multitude of other things – from avocado to tomatoes and radish – which can be added as your fridge necessitates. Its perfection lies in the balance between the freshness of raw vegetables and the rice and beans substantial enough to constitute a real meal. It’s served with a lovely lime juice dressing, and tossed at the table so everyone can admire it. And admire it they will.
YELLOW RICE & BEAN SALAD
Recipe by my mother, inspired by Bon Appétit circa 2001. Make as much or as little as you want; these measurements make enough for about four.
1 tsp cumin or caraway seeds
1 tsp tumeric
2 cups water
1 cup rice
1 tsp salt
2 cups canned beans, drained and rinsed (such as black, navy, kidney or chickpeas; we like to mix 3 for color)
3/4 cup frozen corn, defrosted
2 tomatoes, diced
1 large cucumber, diced
romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 avocado, diced (optional)
fresh cilantro (optional)
olive oil and lime juice
salt & pepper to taste
To make dressing: mix lime juice and olive oil to taste; season with salt and pepper.
To make rice: Add all the rice ingredients together in a small saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cover; simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Cool rice. Mix in half of dressing if desired. Add salt & pepper to taste.
To make beans: combine beans, tomato, corn, cucumber, scallions, cilantro and whatever other goodies you want (radish, avocado, etc.). Leave the lettuce out for now.
To assemble on a large platter, first place all the rice in the dish then arrange the lettuce leaves around mound the bean mixture on top; garnish with scallions if desired. Pour the remaining dressing all around. Toss and serve.