This is my favorite summer staple and, along with homemade hummus, I try to keep some in the refrigerator all summer long. My mother used to pack it in my school lunch, ensuring open-mouthed stares from the other children at the lunch table. I craved it as an adult and was handed down a photocopy of the original recipe about ten years ago. It is taken from one of her Macrobiotic cookbooks from the early 80s, the title of which has long since escaped me.
WHAT WILL I NEED?
A medium to large size saucepan, wooden spatula, vegetable peeler, chef’s knife, large mixing bowl, food processor (or blender).
GROCERY LIST:Brown rice, long grain Carrots Celery Scallions Watercress Tofu (preferably soft) JOYVA Tahini Brown rice vinegar (or a lemon) Parsley
A WORD ON TAHINI: For as long as I could remember there was only one option as far as tahini was concerned. The orange and brown can was ubiquitous. Then in the last few years all sorts of jars began popping up with organic contents and exotic infusions. Skip it! JOYVA is what tahini is supposed to taste like! It’s been all-natural since before the rest of us knew enough to care.
And guess what? It’s made in Brooklyn, baby!
1. THE RICE1 C brown rice 2 C water 1 t butter pinch salt
Our object here is to produce a firm rice that will absorb the dressing when the salad is assembled. This means not cooking the rice for too long or with too much water.
Combine the salt, butter, and water in your saucepan and bring to a brisk boil over high heat. Add the rice, stir briefly, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for five minutes (or longer, until water is absorbed). Fluff with a fork and keep covered until step four.
2. THE VEGETABLES2 Carrots, medium to large 3 Celery stalks 4 to 6 Scallions ½ bunch Watercress
I do not have a sous chef and therefore I often look for shortcuts in prep to save myself time and trouble without taking away from the deliciousness of the dish. The food processor as slicer is one of those shortcuts, but if you don’t have one you’ll have to do all the dicing and shredding by hand.
If you do have one, fit it out with the slicing blade. Peel your carrots and trim them along with your celery and scallions. Slice the celery stalks lengthwise and carefully feed them into the processor slowly to produce a finely diced result. Repeat for the tops of your scallions. Line your mixing bowl with a paper towel and transfer your diced vegetables to it. Fit the processor with the shredding blade and shred your carrots, adding them to the bowl as well.
NOTE: This is one circumstance where I don’t go to crazy about waste…you don’t want to lose a finger getting the most from your celery stalk. But if you want to dice the ends by hand, by all means go ahead.
You should be able to fold the edges of the paper towel so that the corners overlap on top forming an envelope around your damp vegetables; do so and flip the envelope over in the bowl. This lets the paper absorb the excess moisture so the consistency of your dressing will not be diluted and the dressing will be more readily absorbed when it is incorporated.
Take out your bunch of watercress and begin removing the leaves from the stalk. This may strike you as an unrelenting waste of time. If so, try eating the watercress with the stem. The importance of this step should be immediately apparent. If it is not, refrain from underestimating the palate of whomever you might be serving this dish and soldier on.
3. THE DRESSING2 oz Tofu (preferably soft) 2 T Tahini ½ C Water 2 T Brown rice vinegar (or juice of a lemon) ½ t Sea salt (or to taste) handful Parsley, washed and de-stemmed
Wash out the bowl of your food processor and fit with the purée blade or use your blender for the dressing. Place all ingredients together and purée until creamy.
Remove the envelope of vegetables from your mixing bowl and set aside. Turn the rice into the bowl and pour in half the dressing, folding in with a spatula. Allow the rice to chill in the refrigerator for about an hour, then add the vegetables and the rest of the dressing in the same manner. I tend to under salt to allow my guests to season to their own taste.
Stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container, this salad should keep for a week.