Salad Rice Bowls

Salad rice bowls are taking the place of bread and cheese sandwiches in my kitchen this week. I am looking for a lunch formula that is fast and nutrient-dense. The inspiration came from two places. First, I spent a day photographing a new cafe at Google headquarters. In this cafe, plant based foods are the star, with meat & dairy as highlights. Nibbling and tasting through the shoot was one of the healthiest and restorative food days I’ve had in months. Then there was the Healthy-ish January issue of Bon Appétit. There is an article about preparing an exciting mise en place, and then mixing it up all week. It’s so simple. It got me thinking.

salad rice bowls

I do not like cooking when I’m hungry, I like cooking in advance of hunger. So this weekend, I prepared the pieces. They could be anything, really, but I wanted four distinct sections: protein; fresh veg; flavor-packed sauce or dressing; and rice or other whole grain carb. All the components are pre-prepared, except for the rice. I will drop that into the rice cooker an hour before I eat, so it’s fresh.

Above is what my mise en place looked like, and below are some of the star components. What I love about this system, is the potential for variety. I love making flavor-packed sauces, and often have a bit of something left over in the fridge. The proteins could be chopped chicken, or bacon bits, any kind of fish, tofu, any other kind of bean, or any kind of roasted nut or seed. The carb could be any kind of rice, quinoa, or millet, or rice noodles. You see where I’m going. It’s a formula, but it doesn’t have to get repetitive.

salsa verde
Salsa Verde
quick scallion kimchi
Quick Scallion Kimchi, adapted from a recipe by David Tanis
hard boiled eggs
Hard boiled eggs
roasted citrus orange
Roasted oranges

This is what I had on hand, or cooked specifically, for my first week’s rice bowls (appropriately seasoned with salt & pepper).

The proteins: black beans marinated in white wine vinegar, olive oil, shallots; hard boiled eggs; dry roasted peanuts

The fresh: arugula; lettuce; cabbage; roasted orange slices; white onion

Dressing 1: rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, olive oil, shallot & orange juice

Dressing 2: olive oil, white wine vinegar, shallots, whole grain mustard

Sauce 1: salsa verde – a grinding and a chopping of shallots, arugula, parsley, toasted almonds, Castelvetrano olives, olive oil, white wine vinegar & lemon juice (found on DesignSponge)

Sauce 2: ginger scallion relish made with ginger, garlic, scallions, oil (a recipe by Bar Chuko in the forthcoming Brooklyn Bar Bites cookbook, which I photographed, and worked from my advance copy)

Sauce 3: quick scallion kimchi made with scallions, salt, garlic, brown sugar, grated ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, sesame seeds, tamari, rice vinegar (a staple in our fridge, adapted from a recipe by David Tanis)

The rice: a wild rice blend, cooked for one hour in a rice cooker

And below are two distinctly different salad rice bowls – one with Asian flavors, and one with Mediterranean flavors. I’m just getting started.

salad rice bowls
Salad rice bowl with an Asian flair features quick scallion kimchi, dry roasted peanuts, cabbage, lettuce, and a dressing of rice vinegar, orange juice & tamari
salad rice bowls
Salad rice bowl with a Mediterranean bend features marinated beans, salsa verde, arugula, white onion, roasted citrus, and a dressing of olive oil, white wine vinegar, shallot and mustard

 

Fresh Winter Salads


With the end of the holidays, winter salads are on my mind. The more vegetables I eat, the better I feel. I miss the salad bowls of summer, but it doesn’t feel quite right to eat mesclun greens and lettuce in the depth of winter. Here are three of my favorite winter salads, using winter vegetables. I have been chopping and serving these all week.

Raw kale salad – so easy, except for the chopping. You really have to chop, and it has to be done by hand. After that, mix in a dressing of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic if you like, shaved parmesan and toasted pine nuts. As a side, my daughter and I made Indian puffy bread – Poori – which was entertaining to watch puff up in hot oil.

Raw kale salad NYC food photographer

Raw shaved Brussels sprouts salad – this is a variation of a recipe I found on Food52. Thinly slice some purple onion and soak in a bowl of water to mellow the sharp onion flavor (drain after about 30 minutes). Peel away the outer layers of a couple of large handful of Brussels sprouts. Slice the cleaned sprouts thin on a mandoline. Make a dressing with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, honey, whole grain mustard, salt & pepper. Toss together along with some grated Pecorino Romano. Eat straight away.

winter salads NYC food photographer

Shaved raw carrot salad – I found this one in Nigel Slater‘s Tender. Thinly slice raw carrots, mix in fresh grapefruit & lime juice, olive oil, shaved hot peppers, salt, pepper, and toss in some torn leaves of cilantro.

raw carrot salad food photographer Jennifer May

I feel like I’ve only just begun.

Wood Sorrel – Weed to Salad

My edible garden is accidentally on purpose filled with wood sorrel. This south facing slope at the forest’s edge is a hodge-podge of garden theories. I follow Lee Reich’s method of mulching to suppress weeds. But I also follow the Gaia’s Garden approach of letting things grow in organized chaos. And since I haven’t found a great source for organic compost, I don’t mulch as often as I ought. In some ways this garden is weeds suppressing other weeds. But I curate the weeds.

wood sorrel
Wood sorrel in the garden

Barberries I attack with a crowbar. Wisteria is clipped or pulled on sight. Periwinkles run rampant and the bees appreciate their early flowers. Clover is a boon for its nitrogen-fixing root nodules in the soil.

My toddler and her Nana love to nibble on wood sorrel, so it stays. Its delicate heart-shaped leaves bend and nod in every corner of the garden. It looks a lot like clover, but wood sorrel is a sour, lemony tasting green that doubles as a potent culinary herb.

Clipping the plants from where they were growing too closely to pear trees the other day, I gathered it for the kitchen, rather than the compost. I turned to Foraging & Feasting, a beautifully illustrated book about wild edibles, and made sure there are no poisonous look-alikes. (There are not.) Then I looked for recipes in my cookbooks.

wood sorrel from a garden

bunches of wood sorrel
Bunches of just picked wood sorrel

wood sorrel

ingredients for a spring salad
Ingredients for a spring salad

There are many recipes for sorrel cream sauce, sorrel and goat cheese tarts, and sorrel beverages. Apparently – although I have not tested this – cultivated sorrel and wood sorrel are so similar in flavor as to be interchangeable. I will do a taste-test when I get my hands on some farmed sorrel this summer. The delicate leaves of wild sorrel seem to me best suited to salads.

This weekend, I made wood sorrel salad, and I made a version of Ottolenghi’s lima beans with sorrel, feta and lemon.

For the salad: torn leaves of fresh young lettuce (I used red leaf), fresh dill, a big bunch of wood sorrel leaves & flowers, and since they were blooming, chive flowers.
For the dressing: olive oil, aged white balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a teaspoon of fig preserves, a teaspoon of stone ground mustard, one pressed clove of garlic, a wee bit of diced red onion, salt.
Garnish: Toasted sunflower seeds and grated aged parmesan.

Wood sorrel recipe ingredients
Deliciously sour notes of Ottolenghi: Sumac, feta, dill, lemon & wood sorrel
lima beans and sorrel in pan
Lima beans, chives from the garden, and sorrel in a pan
wood sorrel chive flower salad
Wood sorrel, young lettuce & chive flower salad

This was delicious. We ate the sour & sweet salad for lunch with some of the sorrel & lima bean dish I had left over from the day before. I made sure my husband got the single sorrel flower I harvested, and my daughter talked about that flower all through lunch.

 

Apple Slaw with Onion Seedlings

This morning, while planting out seedlings in my edible garden, I discovered a patch of volunteers. A taste-test revealed them to be onion seedlings, and they had clearly sprung up from the spent seed heads I left in the garden over winter, to feed the birds. I am grateful to these volunteers for planting themselves – it’s less work for me, and it’s a clear indication of what thrives in my particular plot of partly shaded soil.

I have a patch of calendula seedlings – offspring from a single plant given to me at Field Apothecary a couple of years ago when I photographed them for Edible Hudson Valley. I will let the calendula grow as they are. My alpine strawberries, aka fraises du bois, are popping up all over the garden. I imagine the creatures who stole the fruit left a few seeds behind where they ate them. I am moving these tiny plants one by one into a brand new dedicated (and protected) garden bed – they are just too precious to share with wildlife.

The onion seedlings are growing too densely to leave alone, and I don’t have room for 100 onion plants in my already crowded garden. So, I pulled a bunch of them, washed them, cut off their roots, and added them to an apple-napa cabbage slaw. Micro greens!

onion seedlings
Onion seedlings thinned from my spring garden
apple slaw
Apple & napa cabbage slaw with onion seedlings

Caramelized, Roasted, Bitter, Funky, Sweet: Salad

Is it a salad when it is roasted and drenched with melted cheese? Probably not, but it is delicious, and I’m sure it counts as two vegetable servings. This dish is a play on one I found in Ottolenghi’s Plenty. I didn’t have endives and Gruyere, but I did have radicchios and Taleggio, so I made due. It’s so simple: Cut, caramelize, cover with sliced cheese, bake, add bread crumbs & thyme, eat while piping hot.

Radicchio SaladradicchioRoasted Radicchio Saladcut thyme on a boardTaleggio cheeseRoasted Radicchio Salad

 

Cucumber, Smashed Garlic & Ginger Salad

I always feel grounded and balanced when I’m eating lots of salad, and I’m always looking for new twists. This one, inspired from Ottolenghi’s Plenty, is sure to be repeated. The basic idea: Chop cucumber & red onion and toss into a vinaigrette of smashed ginger & garlic, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and top with roasted sesame seeds. There’s a little salt, sugar, and cilantro in there to balance out the flavors.

Cucumber SaladCucumber Salad Cucumber Salad

Food stories in New York's Hudson Valley and beyond from photographer Jennifer May