I was planning on writing a post about granola today - about how I didn't think I'd like it, how I prefer my un-sugared flakes, how I was converted by this recipe, how I'd seen the light and now you could tooooo, except that it was a total disaster. Over-salted, burnt, cringe-worthy even when doused in yogurt and studded with blueberries. And it left me with nothing to write about, to boot. Oh, I hate hate hate it when that happens.
I guess it's a lesson. Don't mess with breakfast? Just keep eating your plain old flakes with milk and leave granola to the others. Sigh. Do you think I should try again? Molly's chocolate granola sounds dreamy, though I fear for my energy levels if I start having chocolate for breakfast. (I used to eat this treacly German cereal called Crunchy Nut when I was in high school - sugary corn flakes bedazzled with little pieces of peanuts, man, that stuff was heaven in a bowl and furthermore, much like crack for the delicate bloodlines of this girl who would eat a bowl for breakfast and proceed to practically hum with zany energy until lunchtime. Unless that was just because I was fifteen. Fifteen! Oh, come back, would you?)
And maybe it's also a kick in the pants to tell you about this rice salad I've been sitting on (well, not the salad, but you know) for a few weeks now. Upon first impression, there's not all that much special about this salad at all. I mean, there's rice, and some tender edamame (or favas, as the original recipe calls for but which are far too difficult to track down in this city and, in any case, to deal with once they are tracked down) and a few crunchy bits of red pepper and fennel, some nice bright herbs and a sprightly dressing. But it's not exactly rocket science, right? In fact, it seems mostly like a kitchen-sink type of dish, you know, the kind that you cobble together out of all the odd bits and bobs lying around your pantry and your fridge.
So, you know, not all that special, though certainly delicious and filling and different - for God's sakes - from all the pots of plain boiled rice we seem to eat around these parts. And goodness, but suddenly that recipe seems a little scant for two people, let alone four, let's double it next time. And there was the strange fact that I kept making versions of this salad with whatever I could find lying around the house. Sauteed ramps and peas with mint and some lemon juice instead of the edamame and peppers and fines herbes. Or toasty Indian spices and canned lima beans. Suddenly room-temperature rice spruced up with all sorts of delicious things feels elemental, like we'll be eating it all summer long and with gusto.
It's hardly rocket science, no, but it's creeping its way into my permanent repertoire and that's chemistry, at least.
Edamame and Rice Salad with Fines Herbes Vinaigrette
Serves 2 to 3
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups frozen edamame
1/2 cup long-grain rice, preferably basmati or jasmine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
2 teaspoons chopped chives
1 teaspoon finely chopped oregano (technically this is meant to be chervil, but oregano is what I've got on my balcony)
1 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely diced red pepper
1/4 cup finely diced fennel
1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Toast the almonds in the oven on a baking sheet until fragrant, about 10 minutes, and set aside.
2. Fill a medium saucepan with water and add about a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook the frozen edamame for 4 to 5 minutes, just until tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a shallow bowl to cool. Bring the pot of water back to a low boil.
3. Rinse the rice in a small strainer, then add the rice to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. While the rice is cooking, whisk together the mustard and vinegar in a small bowl, then whisk in the oil until the dressing emulsifies. Whisk in the chives, oregano, parsley and tarragon. Season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, or to taste.
5. Strain the cooked rice and add it to the edamame. Pour half the vinaigrette over the mixture. Add the red pepper and fennel and toss until coated. Add more vinaigrette, salt and pepper to taste.
6. If you are serving the salad right away, sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top. If you want to chill it, cover the salad and refrigerate until needed. Just before serving, stir the salad again and add more vinaigrette if needed, then sprinkle with the toasted almonds.