Here’s another recipe that was deep in my archives that I still absolutely love, but needed a photo makeover! This is the time of year when I am furiously trying to maximize my consumption of all things summer. The seasonal window for some of my favorite foods is just too short, especially tomatoes. In my classes July through September, I always feature at least two recipes with the beloved tomato and I beg everyone to enjoy them while they last because fresh tomatoes won’t be appearing in my kitchen until the following summer.Continue reading
Sometimes, a little freshening up is in order. I put this chopped grilled vegetable salad on my weekly dinner planner and when I pulled the image for it, I cringed a little. The photo did not do it justice at all. This salad is one of my absolute favorites and one that I posted almost 5 years ago. In all fairness to me, I didn’t even know how to use a camera when I started this blog, and although I am still no photography expert, I think my images have improved since 2011. So I thought I would pull this post from the archives and give it a facelift, especially on the eve of Memorial Day weekend when you might be inclined to make a fantastic, crowd-pleasing salad such as this one.
I had the most fantastic time in Dallas this past weekend! I spent lovely quality time with my daughter, and I enjoyed getting to know her sorority sisters and their moms. We had a very full weekend with lots of good food, karaoke (no comment!), yoga, and shopping for everything from mattresses to paleo snacks to new clothes for her to wear to her internship this summer. Believe people when they tell you that kids grow up too fast!
We all love to cook, right? Ok, maybe some us just like to cook. And I know that I’m the biggest cheerleader of planning your meals ahead so that dinnertime is stress free and a walk in the park. Yeah. Well, gotta tell you that this week did not go as planned. One day especially was just a doozy. There was a lot of traffic on the way home from work. AND I forgot to defrost the chicken I wanted to make for dinner. AND I had to pick up one daughter who I thought had a ride home. AND my other daughter wanted “to go study at the library, can I please have dinner right now?” AND I had a headache. Can you see my grumpy face?
I had this whole orange chicken thing planned with spicy sweet potatoes and sautéed spinach. Sounds nice, right? Well, the chicken was frozen solid and I had no time to roast sweet potatoes. You know what cooks really fast? White rice. I know, it has nothing going for it. A totally devoid food, nutritionally-speaking. However, white rice is a bit easier to digest than brown and as the well-respected nutritionist Linda Prout claims, you can close the nutritional gap with white rice by eating a few extra forkfuls of spinach. And did I mention my headache? Sold! White rice it is! And with some doctored up black beans out of a (BPA-free can), I would figure something else out so that I wouldn’t need to get take-out.
It’s not that I am completely opposed to take-out once in a while. But where I live, there really aren’t too many good take-out options and what is decent is so expensive. Even with a headache, it doesn’t make me happy to spend $80 on dinner for the five of us when I know I can make something good for under $20. And the meal I put together on this particular night probably cost me under $10. For the five us. And I didn’t have the guilt of throwing away a hundred plastic to-go boxes and bags.
One fast-food restaurant that my family likes is Chipotle, which we never get here at the beach, but I always google when I am traveling for a soccer tournament with Mr. Picky and I’m in the middle of who-knows-where. We all love rice and beans, especially the kids and Chipotle has a yummy cilantro rice that I thought would be perfect with beans and some quick veggies. It ended up being a really satisfying, nutritious and easy meal that the kids asked me to make again. I’ve noticed that anytime the kids get to “assemble” their own dinner, they are very pleased. I put out the cilantro-lime rice, black beans, two fresh salsas that I purchased at the farmer’s market, my cheater guacamole, leftover grilled asparagus and some quick-roasted carrots. Everyone except Mr. Picky made deconstructed burrito bowls which were DELICIOUS. He, of course, can’t have have different food groups touch each other, so 4 bowls and 1 plate, please.
I know a few of you will frown at my white rice, but I also believe in keeping it real. The internet and social media allow people to show the side of themselves that they want to be shown, which is usually only what is positive and perfect and sometimes unrealistic. It can be a bit daunting to think that the grass is always greener on the other side or that every food blogger can seamlessly put together a visually perfect, well-balanced, delicious meal every night. That is certainly not me and I can’t say that I aspire to that level of competence. But rather I hope that whatever curveball life throws me whether it’s in the kitchen or out, I will find a way to roll with it and not worry about the fiber content.
1 cup long-grain rice or basmati rice, brown or white
2 cups water
2 teaspoons unrefined olive oil, coconut oil or unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
juice of ½ lime
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (chop, then measure)
2 teaspoons unrefined olive oil
If you have time, soak the rice in a bowl with lots of water to cover. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1-8 hours. Drain. If you're not sure why you should soak your rice, read this post on arsenic and rice.
In a small saucepan, add drained rice, 2 cups water, 2 teaspoons oil or butter, garlic and salt. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes for white rice or 45 minutes for brown rice. (If you didn’t have a chance to soak your rice, cook another few minutes.) Turn off the heat and allow to sit covered for an additional 5 minutes.
In your serving bowl, combine lime juice, cilantro, remaining 2 teaspoons oil and cooked rice. Toss to combine.
A close second to my obsession with summer tomatoes is my love for fresh locally-grown summer corn. I think I buy it twice a week from the end of June to October. I love corn’s juicy, grassy sweetness. I love how easy it is to make it taste good (if it’s fresh) and how it goes so beautifully with all the other summer produce. A major bonus is that everyone in my family loves corn. Actually, not true. My father grew up on a farm in Italy where they fed the pigs corn and he still associates it with animal feed. Pity.
Given all the above, I have prepared A LOT of corn for summer dinner guests and I have made an unscientific observation. Adults are not fond of eating corn-on-the-cob in front of people they are not related to. Guilty! I have served both boiled and grilled corn on the cob to guests, as well as sauteed corn kernels or corn off the cob in a salad, and corn cut off the cob is always more popular. I think that sometimes eating an ear of corn is awkward or messy. Perhaps it gets stuck in your teeth or stays on your check and no one tells you until dessert is served. So I have a policy of making corn on the cob for my kids and my husband and me, but always cut off the cob for guests.
One very popular way to eat corn in Southern California is Grilled Mexican Corn on the Cob. Typically the ear of corn is grilled in the husk and then the kernels (still on the cob) are slathered with mayonnaise, chili powder and/or cayenne pepper, a squeeze of fresh lime and sprinkled with salty, crumbly Cotija cheese. Utterly delicious, albeit messy and something I would never eat in front of you, especially if I hope to make a good impression and keep my shirt from the dry cleaners. But I figured the same flavors would translate to to cut corn kernels. It worked! The only thing I leave out is the mayonnaise which I think can take over and detract from the corn. But I’m sure many of you would challenge me on that one. I am crazy about grilling corn in the husks, though. Have you ever smelled burning corn husks? It’s fantastic. I really think it adds a delicious smokiness to the final dish.
Definitely try this recipe if you’re looking for something a little different or if you love the taste of grilled street corn, as some people call it, but you’d still like to look like a lady/gentleman while you eat. I served this the other night with grilled fish tacos and I ate it both as a side dish as well as a condiment on my taco. Delicious! If you can’t get enough of corn right now, try my recipe for my favorite salad, Chopped Grilled Vegetable Salad, as well as Southwestern Quinoa Salad, or Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salsa. Of course there are thousands of recipes you can search on Foodily, where I was just asked to be a Tastemaker. Fun! I get to highlight awesome recipes that I find all over the web. Check it out!
Crumbled feta, Parmesan or Cotija cheese, if desired (it's just as good without)
Preheat a grill over medium heat. Carefully pull down husks and remove silks. Replace most of the husk and grill for 5-6 minutes per side or until kernels are charred. Don’t worry if the husk burns. Remove husk and cut kernels off of the cob.
Melt butter in large sauté pan. Add chili powder, paprika and lime juice and stir to combine. Stir in corn and season with salt. Taste it for seasoning. Try not to eat the whole thing. Finish with lime juice and a sprinkling of cheese, if you like.