Interestingly enough, the two seasons of the year I cook the least are summer and late winter. The summer months keep me consuming fresh produce, flash-seared fish, and cold soups for the obvious reason that the oven is so hot and food is so fresh: no brainer.
January through March, though indisputably cold, is a time of renewal and cleansing of my mind, spirit, home, and body. I keep things simple and clean with a seasonal fruit breakfast, lots of nuts and grainy crackers for snacks, and meals that consist of grains, beans, vegetables, and a bit of protein like in this lunch favorite. I appreciate the chewy texture of the wild rice against the crisp green vegetables and juicy citrus. With huge flavor from a sprinkling of fresh herbs, sharp scallion, and buttery toasted nuts, only a drizzle of fruity green olive oil and white wine vinegar is needed. Of course, a sprinkling of crunchy salt is desirable, as it is with most things I consume. I always feel best taking the month to refocus my energies and turn off the indulgence switch.
Truth be told, the initial New Year’s resolution attitude can only last about three weeks as I leave for multiple food shows starting in late January where I am forced to consume my weight in innovate confections, chocolates, and baked goods. But again, I try to live an organized life in all aspects and this includes my eating. I prepare for and embrace periods of dietary surrender because it is one of life’s ultimate pleasures, I am active in both eating and physical activity and I keep a bit of an inventory to keep it real.
It’s like organized gluttony. That doesn’t sound like such sacrifice now does it?
Clean Eating: Black Rice Salad with Edamame, Red Grapefruit, and Walnuts
1 cup black rice
½ cup walnuts
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. green beans, blanched and thinly sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, haved
1 large ruby red grapefruit
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cook rice according to directions (typically in a medium saucepan of salted boiling water for 30-35 minutes). Drain and let cool in a single layer on a baking sheet.
On a small baking sheet, roast walnuts for 8-10 minutes, allow to cool and chop.
To segment the grapefruit, first use a paring knife to slice off all of the rind and as much pith as possible. Slice between the membrane and remove segments of the grapefruit until all the fruit is off. Reserve. In a small bowl, ring out the membrane to collect all juice as you will use this to dress your salad. To the juice, add honey, vinegar, and olive oil and whisk gently. Season with a pinch of salt.
Toss rice, walnuts, scallions, tomatoes, edamame, green beans, grapefruit, and vinaigrette in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
**My Two Cents: If you don’t care for grapefruit, orange segments are a nice substitute.
** If you have trouble finding black rice, brown rice would definitely work here. This is a good base salad and you can feel free to play with different vegetables, fruits, and nuts to keep this in rotation all year long.