Rice Curry Salad

Greetings from summer!

The season of picnics and barbecues is upon us. I thought I’d share my mom’s recipe for a delicious rice curry salad, which is a perfect addition to the summer side salad rotation. It’s vegetarian and gluten-free and the perfect accompaniment to summer grilling or as itself for a picnic.

What you need:
2 boxes of a rice side (we use Near East’s Long Grain and Wild Rice, Original) You can also just use 2 cups of wild rice and adjust seasonings to your taste.
15 oz. bottled artichoke hearts
1.5 cups mayonaise
2 tablespoons + curry powder
5 scallions
1 small green pepper
1/2-3/4 cup raisins
1 cup green olives with pimentos

What to do:

Prepare the rice and let cool, covered (make the rice in the morning and the rest in the afternoon, for example).

Chop the artichoke hearts, scallions, and green pepper and combine in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine mayonaise, curry powder, and about 1/2 the juice from the jar of artichokes.

Add the cooled rice to the large bowl and pour the mayonaise mixture over the top. Mix.

Next, mix in raisins first and then carefully fold in the olives.

That’s it! Remember to keep refrigerated. How about a close-up?

Happy summer!

Homemade Pesto

Who knew something seemingly so complicated was actually quite an easy and toddler-friendly kitchen project to do together? Our neighbor (who has a plot at our local community garden) had more basil than she could use, so she gave us a bunch. It was finally my opportunity to try making pesto myself.

I first did a bit of internet research and although we have a food processor, I decided to take the advice of this site and chop the basil by hand (Jax is scared of the noise of kitchen gadgets). It didn’t take very long, actually, and was the perfect activity to do while Jax smashed the pine nuts with the mortar and pestle.

What you need:
~a big bunch of basil (see photo below)
~pine nuts (about 1/2 cup)
~olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
~freshly grated parmesan cheese (about 1/8 cup)

What to do:
Smash the pine nuts with the mortar and pestle and finely chop the basil leaves.

As soon as Jax sees the camera he wants to reach out and “see Jax” on the screen.

In a bowl, combine the nuts and leaves and add olive oil and parmesan until the pesto reaches the desired consistency.

The pesto is ready to use!

We used it on chicken breasts pan fried with a tad more olive oil. The beauty of such a recipe is that it doesn’t matter if the proportions are off or if some of the leaves and nuts remain whole in the finished product. You can leave out the parmesan (recommended if you want to freeze the pesto) or replace the pine nuts with walnuts (something my sister swears by). You can use it like a meat rub, as we did, or mix it in to simple pasta. Jax loved the chicken, albeit without the chunky parts of the pesto. But a success all around, I’d say.

Buon apetito!

Zucchini Carrot Muffins

I have an all-or-nothing problem with fresh produce. I’ll either buy way, way too much or not enough. I’ve been reading the French classic cookbook Je Sais Cuisiner and am trying to get better about meal planning. But the reality is that sometimes veggies start to fade before we can munch them up.

This week we had an excess of carrots and zucchini, and they weren’t looking too good. Since it was 92F/33C degrees yesterday, making an easy but hot puréed vegetable soup didn’t sound too appealing. Instead, I tried my hand at making zucchini carrot muffins ?? with the added challenge of making them as healthy as possible. After some recipe research and drawing on my experience with muffins in the past, I came up with a pretty good recipe, based on this one, but with much less sugar. We were all out of whole wheat flour, but that would have made it a tad more healthy, too. In all, I’m quite pleased with the result and will definitely use it again.

What you need:

2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 average-sized finely shredded unpeeled zucchini
3 small-to-medium-ish finely shredded carrots

What to do:

Using a food processor, finely grate/chop the zucchini and carrots.

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease 12 muffin cups (I have been using a great all-natural grape seed spray).

In a mixing bowl, beat the oil with eggs, sugars, and vanilla extract.

Combine the flour, soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; add to the wet ingredients; stirring until blended. Fold in the shredded zucchini and carrots.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of one comes out clean.