Creamy Sweet Rice Salad (formerly known as Rosa Marina Salad)

I promised a short series on breakfasts several months ago…and then I dropped off the face of the planet again.  Sorry.  Life has changed once again and I should be posting more often now.

Preparing fun breakfasts has kinda dropped off around here, too.  I loved eating them, perhaps too much, because I gained weight!  Eating great breakfasts was supposed to help balance the rest of the day and help me eat less, but, apparently, I just love food so much that it didn’t work that way for me.  So, I’ve gone back to a nutrient-packed green smoothie most mornings and save the special breakfasts for special treats.

Rosa MarinaThis salad certainly works for a breakfast treat, or for a healthy dessert!  My preparation of it has changed over the years.  When I first made it, we were vegetarian, but not necessarily healthy ones ~ and it contained eggs, Cool Whip, white sugar, maraschino cherries….obviously, things were going to have to change in the salad when we became vegan and also gave up so many chemicals in our foods!  I finally nailed a tasty version of the salad without maraschino cherries (one of my childhood favorites.)  It still did contain the very small pasta called rosa marina or orzo, which helped the dressing to firm up into a nice, thick creamy dream.

Then…dun, dun, dun…enter gluten issues for me.  This salad was just one of the many casualties of my new way of eating.  It broke my heart (all of the situation, not just losing this salad.)  I tried and tried to come up with suitable replacements, but everything I replaced just failed.  Quinoa was too chewy; long-grained rice’s texture was off; the creamy dressing never set up.  It was very disappointing.  And my family was starting to make disparaging comments about the versions I created, because nothing was as good to them as the orzo!  (Never mind that white flour pasta isn’t good for you and nobody seems to make whole grain orzo.)

This time, I succeeded.  I adjusted the dressing to have less liquid.  I used short grain brown rice to give a better texture and since it is somewhat sticky, it allowed the creamy dressing to thicken properly.  Granted, my family still is a little on the fence about it, because they remember the pasta version and textures are a big deal to them.  Personally, I love it and am so happy to have it back in my life that I fix it despite their opinions.

I’ve been known to add sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen cherries, or blueberries to change things up a bit ~ although they can really change the color of the cream.  (I can guarantee the whole salad to myself this way, because of my fussy eaters, so adding it to individual bowls may work better.)  I have also been toying with the idea of using fresh pineapple, but I’m wondering if that would curdle the cream.  Let me know what adaptations you come up with to try!

Creamy Sweet Rice Salad

  • 1 c. short brown rice
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. water (or according to rice package)
  • 2 20-oz cans unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve 1 c. of the juice!)
  • 3 11-oz. cans of mandarin orange segments, drained (do NOT reserve the liquid)
  • 1 12-oz pkg. Morinu extra-firm tofu
  • 3/4 c. raw cashews (soak these for 4 hours or so if you don’t have a strong blender)
  • 1 c. reserved pineapple juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. evaporated cane juice crystals OR 1/4 tsp.+ pure stevia OR other equivalent dry sweetener

Cook rice according to package directions, but make sure it is quite well done so that it isn’t too chewy.  Meanwhile, place fruit into a large mixing bowl.  Blend the last 6 ingredients until very smooth and pour over the fruit.  When the rice is ready, mix it into the fruit and cream.  Refrigerate until cold and the cream sets up nicely.

Vegan Mock Meatloaf

This recipe took a few sideways steps over the years.  I grew up eating my mom’s meatloaf – of the cow variety.  When hubby and I became vegetarians, I learned about a mock meatloaf called cottage cheese loaf.  It was tasty – after all, most recipes contained gobs of cottage cheese, eggs, and butter/margarine – but far from healthy.  My very favorite version repeatedly received rave reviews.  But hold the phone! ~ there was another necessary morph coming.  I next needed a vegan version without unhealthy levels of fats.  (Vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, you know…potato chips are vegan.)  We ate some “interesting” concoctions as I played with ingredients trying to get the taste I remembered.  Now I get rave reviews over my vegan version!

Mock Loaf

  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 4 ½ c. semi-crushed cereal (see note)
  • 1 c. water (if you aren’t trying to eat completely fat-free, I recommend replacing 2 T. of the water with olive oil for better texture)
  • 2 large onions (at least 2 cups worth once it’s chopped)
  • 2 boxes Mori-nu Lite extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 4 ½ T. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 3-4 T. “chicken”-style seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9″ x13″ pan with olive oil.  Chop walnuts in food processor; set aside.  Semi-crush cereal flakes in food processor or with potato masher (depending on which cereal you use); set aside with nuts.  Chop onions in food processor and place in skillet to simmer with 1 c. water until onion is softened – about 5 minutes.  (If you prefer a drier end product, decrease the water by 2-3 T.  My family likes a very moist loaf.)  In large bowl, mash tofu with a potato masher until the consistency of small-curd cottage cheese.  Stir “chicken” seasoning and egg-replacer powder into tofu.  Add the reserved nuts and cereal; mix until evenly distributed.  By this time, the onions should be ready.  Do not drain the water off of the onions, but pour them both into the tofu mixture.  Stir vigorously until everything begins to stick together quite well, as the water and egg replacer powder come together.  Scrape into prepared pan.  Flatten and smooth into corners.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour (or if preparing ahead, bake for only 45 minutes, reheating at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes).  This also freezes well.  Thaw before reheating in oven.

NOTE: If you prefer using “Special K” or “Product 19″ cereals you may, but to avoid refined sugars, etc., that they contain, you may use something like Kashi “Good Friends” cereal* or another flake cereal* from the health-food section of your grocery store.

*will most likely need food processor to crush.