OK, so this may not be considered truly Mediterranean, but it certainly was last-minute! But on the plus side it’s healthy, vegan, gluten-free, and got rounds of compliments around the dinner table, from readers of this blog!
Sunday afternoon, we returned home following a trip to the grocery store and coop. I had plans for a Sunday dinner of roasted chicken and cooking for the coming week. I hadn’t even finished unpacking my bags when we received a phone call from friends inviting us to dinner. I was staring at the container of rice I had taken out of the freezer for dinner, knew I had some dilly beans, and had cukes in the fridge to whip up a Szechuan Cucumber salad. So with only a little time to create a totally on-the-fly salad that was delicious for guests as opposed to the home table, we agreed.
I had about two cups of brown rice I took out of the freezer that morning to thaw. That was ready to go. I took about a cup of frozen corn and edamame from the freezer, placed it in a bowl, and did other things while they thawed, then added it to the rice in a large bowl. This was all well and good, but it needed something more. I added some chopped scallions, which gave it a subtle onion flavor. I had about a cup of cooked heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo (Snowcaps) in the freezer that I thought would add a little more fiber and oomph. But they were large and I knew they wouldn’t thaw in time. I put them in a small skillet with a little bit of water and put them on low heat to warm. I think any bean would be tasty; black beans would go especially well with this.
For the dressing, I planned to make a citrus and spice mixture. In the Splendid Table’s cookbook How to Eat Supper (which is wonderful, by the way), Lynn Rosetto Kasper has a spice mixture called “Crossover Spice.” * (¼ cup ground cumin, ½ cup ground coriander, 1/8 cup (2 TBS) fresh ground black pepper. Mix and seal. They say it lasts 3-4 months in a dark, cool cupboard, but I’ve had mine longer and it is still incredibly fresh.) I always add a little bit to dressings and meats whenever I want a bit of flavor. I find it very potent, so a little goes a long way. I looked at my citrus situation. Half a lemon and half a lime. I was cursing myself that I didn’t get any limes at the store–until I remembered! About a month ago, I bought a bag of limes that were on sale with the thought of having a summer of margaritas, but which never came to fruition. They were in the depths of the vegetable bin and still good! The juice of that one extra lime plus a half teaspoon of the Crossover Spice and I was set. Simple, delicious, virtually no chopping, and it was ready on time!
I had this for lunch later that week and it was even better with a little spritz of extra lime juice and I added some leftover fresh corn. For a more substantial salad, you could always add some cooked chicken or fish. I served mine simply over greens and it was delicious.
Dinner with friends who are like family was wonderful. Chicken and shrimp kabobs, green salad, with a few sips of homemade Mead and Chocolate Cherry Stout (or was it Cherry Chocolate Stout? Maybe I had too many sips!). Nathan has been perfecting his brews and I was interested to learn the complexities of making beer. I’ve also never had tasted Mead before. To some, cooking might seem like a foreign language, but to me, it’s beer making!
Last-Minute Rice Salad with Mediterranean Spices and Vegetables
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup frozen corn, thawed, or fresh if you have it
1 cup frozen edamame, thawed
1 cup cooked beans, whichever you choose
½ cup chopped scallions
Juice of one lemon
Juice of 1 ½-2 limes, or to taste
½ teaspoon Crossover Spice*
Put all the salad ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk the dressing in a separate bowl and toss with the salad before serving. Top with chopped scallions, if desired.