It is no secret to anyone that I love cooking. Actually it is my passion. I thrive when I am in an environment where I am entertaining or simply preparing a dish as a way of showing that I care and love. Which is why I enjoy reading cookbooks, about restaurants and chefs. There are many culinary masters in the world and to pick my favorite would be impossible. But in a world as diverse and varied as the culinary world, I have always been fascinated by chef Alice Waters-- part culinary philosopher, part food historian and all about sharing her love for food with others.
If you do not recognize the name you probably recognize the name Chez Panisse, her famous restaurant in Berkeley, California which she opened in 1971. She has been such a culinary influence that in 2010 she received France's highest decoration: Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. For the record the last American woman to receive this was Julia Child. She is that big of a driving force in the culinary world.
But there is something about Ms. Water that I have always loved and that is her love for local fresh and sustainable food. That is something that I have always gotten from her persona and her interviews. That basic love of fresh food has been with me since I first heard about her and it is also why I try to normally eat fresh foods that require minimal cooking especially during the summer season. Take this recipe for example.
You cannot get any simpler than this. The three main ingredients in these bowl are wild rice, salmon and avocados. Wild rice is something that was new to me up until two years ago when David introduced me to it while on my first trip to Minnesota. This stated happens to be one of the two major harvest states in the US. Wild rice is not truly a rice but an aquatic grass which grows wild. The grains are dark in color and I have come to prefer it mix with other grains like white rice or basmati for a delicious combination of flavors. To wild rice measure a ratio of 4 cups of water x 1 cup of rice, and then cook for 45 minute. This is important to keep in mind if you are preparing a dish that requires you to have all the ingredients handy.
For the salmon I like to use fresh fillets but most of the time I use frozen fillets and work great for this recipe because you will tear it into bite size pieces. To season the salmon I like to use Mr. Dash Southwestern Blend. Flavorful and with just a little bit of kick but not too much.
A very simple recipe, the only slightly time consuming part is gathering and chopping ingredients. Once you have everything prepared, it is just a matter of assembling. You will need:
1 cup wild rice, cooked
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can canned black beans, rinsed
1 cup frozen sweet corn, cooked
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, chopped
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
Romaine lettuce, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 fillets grilled salmon, shredded into bite size pieces.
- In a medium sauce pan add the olive oil and onions cooking untilt the onions are translucent. Then add the bean and corn. All we are looking for is for the veggies to be heated through. Once heated, set aside.
- In a plate arrange in the following order: wild rice, brown rice, bean/corn mixture, tomatoes, avocados, lettuce, salmon and cilatro. Drizzle with a little olive oil, if desired, and enjoy!
The salad is the perfect combination of flavors. No particular flavor is competing with the other; but rather they complement each other. The salad is refreshing and filling without making you feel bloated (which I love).
The beauty about good quality fresh food is that it does not need a lot to make it taste delicious. Actually, I think the less you do to produce or fish, the better. Ms. Waters was on to something when she became fascinated with the French's obsession for fresh food. It tastes good and it is good for you.
I am always amused by the people at my grocery store because I come a few times during the week to buy fresh produce-- in addition to visiting the farmer's market. Growing up in Puerto Rico it was the same. We buy staples for the month, but produce and meats/fish are bought twice a week to get the freshest. It is all about minimal preparation and letting the fresh ingredients speak for themselves. And this recipe today is a prime example of that.
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