Heavens, is this not stupendous? And it contains so many treasures! The main idea was suggested to me by my friend Jeanne, who came up with the salad as a creative use for red rice. Check out her website, which is gorgeous, though it's about her writing, not food. She wrote to me:
So I had it for lunch today. It's a little dry and requires some effort to chew, so I added juicy things--celery and pineapple--and also green onions (still have them in the garden), some toasted cashews, and a few slices of avocado. I mixed up some mayonnaise and lime juice for dressing (I have a ton of limes and lemons right now), and sprinkled everything with salt and pepper. It was good--might have been even better with some curry powder and some currants.
Jeanne, as you might imagine, does not live in Edmonton, Canada, but in California, and has a large and productive garden (we actually met online on a gardening mailing list). While my garden is producing nothing but snow these days, I do have access to excellent grocery stores, and had all this stuff (and more) in my pantry and refrigerator. How could I resist?
There is only 1/2 cup cooked red rice in here, the dressing is about 1 1/2 teaspoons of Vegenaise along with about twice that amount of lime juice, so it was very tart and hardly sweet at all. I mixed in celery and green onions and cilantro, and I did adopt Jeanne's suggestions and added some Sri Lankan curry powder (from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, a great all-purpose non-sweet curry powder) and a few currants, and roasted a few cashews for sprinkling.
So that took about 10 minutes to put together, since I had cooked my red rice yesterday and just warmed it up a little in the microwave today. With 20 minutes to go I decided to try frying the pineapple chunks, which I did in just a few drops of oil and some of their own juice. Yum! And then there was some good caramelized stuff left at the bottom of the pan, so I tossed in some lightly steamed cauliflower and the juice of half an orange and some finely chopped hot red chilis and stir fried it on high heat for about 5 minutes. Check the closeup:
Tantalizing, isn't it? And no extra oil!
And finally, an experiment from yesterday that went right--vegan tomato aspic:
I'd never eaten aspic before, though my mom makes it every holiday. Before I turned vegetarian I was a child and thought it was gross, and then afterwards, well, it isn't vegetarian, so...but yes, you can make an absolutely perfect vegan aspic with agar. Bryanna shows you how. I find agar tricky because there are so many different kinds. I'd say, don't trust recipe authors for agar amounts, since they may not be using the same type you have; just use the recipe as a guideline and follow the ratios on the packet your agar comes in, and you'll be fine. Oh, and this was made in a silicone muffin cup that I found at Safeway. Genius for jellies! I made four of them and they all came out beautifully. Bless you, Ricardo! I feel I ought to know who you are but I don't, but these little cups are a lot of fun. I've tried the aspic right out of the fridge and today took some for lunch where it warmed to room temperature in my desk drawer before lunchtime, and it was brilliant both ways.
Altogether, this was such a nice meal, very quick, it used up lots of stuff I had in the fridge, pretty, light, healthy, and plentiful. I feel like I've just ingested a sunny day. And in chilly November, that's worth quite a bit.