“I eat hot emcees like cold salads
I’m so valid” – Random Axe
The key to eating well, and I don’t just mean healthy, is planning ahead. Unfortunately, planning ahead has never been one of my virtues. But I’ve been changing that, slowly but surely. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent about 15 minutes browsing through recipes and our cupboards in an effort to plan the upcoming week’s meals. Those 15 minutes have made a tremendous difference.
The most satisfying part of planning our meals ahead has been not going hungry at lunch. For once, we adults have consistently had plenty of flavorful, home-cooked meals to eat while we put in our time at the workplace.
The key is to make enough. I haven’t been very good at that in the past. I only have experience cooking for the moment. But, like I said, I’m changing. There are four of us in the house who eat like grown-ass men and, more and more often, we’re hosting a bunch of grown-ass Hip Hop heads for dinner while they’re on tour.
But let’s get back to planning ahead for a minute. I wanna talk about soaking grains. Many people will dispute the need for soaking grains, but I’m all about it. The purpose of soaking, so they say, is to make food more digestible. Like I said, some people buy into the idea and some don’t. Do your own research and decide for yourself. The downside to soaking is that you have to plan way more in advance than you’re probably accustomed to. I usually soak grains anywhere between 8-24 hours. Simply clean and rinse the rice (or whatever), place it in a pan or bowl and cover with warm water. Let it sit until you’re ready to cook it and cook it the way you normally would.
This recipe calls for the optional addition of cheese, which I had originally planned to partake in. But when I tasted the salad without the cheese, it was perfect! So I saved the cheese for a different meal.
Wild Rice Salad
adapted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair
2 1/2 cups water or stock
1 tablespoon butter, optional
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1 cup wild rice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 chopped fennel bulb, core removed
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped red cabbage
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 cups very finely chopped dark, leafy greens – I used rainbow chard
salt and lemon to taste
Pecorino cheese for garnish, optional
Soak rice in warm water for 8 – 12 hours.
Rinse the rice. Bring the water to a boil. Add butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and soaked rice. Bring to a boil again, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 60 minutes, until all the water has evaporated.
In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add fennel, red pepper, cabbage, parsley, and greens and toss to thoroughly to coat.
Once the rice is cooled to room temperature, toss it with the dressed vegetables. Garnish with cheese, if desired.