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.

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Chicky Strips

I can tell it’s summer.  Not only am I not doing as much cooking and creating of new recipes, but I’m not spending as much time on the computer, either.  I want outside!  I want to go swimming!  I want to play hookey from all my tasks!  (Think Spring fever, only worse.)  So, if you don’t see quite as many posts as in the past, you’ll know it’s because I am off having fun instead.  😀  Actually, this post might not have made it today if my swimming plans hadn’t fallen through.

Last night I wanted a simple supper.  I made a huge salad with lots of add-ins.  One of the add-ins needed to be something hearty to make the salad a meal for the guys.  I chose to make these Chicky Strips.  Now ordinarily these end up hot on top of a stir-fry dish, but if cooled a bit they make a marvelous, chewy, salty “chicken” for a salad!  (Although I did see hubby just eating them plain…and other family members ~ who shall remain nameless ~ snitch them from the frying pan while they cook.)

This recipe is similar to my Soy Curl “Chicken” Pieces, but it takes things a step further to obtain a new texture and purpose.  It also increases the amount made, because they tend to disappear fast!  I just love the variations available with soy curls!  For more information on Soy Curls, please see this recipe ~ BBQ Soy Curls.

This may look like a lot of food in the frying pan, but as they brown, they begin to cook down into a smaller amount.

Chicky Strips

  • 6 c. soy curls
  • 2 c. water
  • 2-4 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, depending on how salty you want the finished product
  • 3+ T. chicken-style seasoning, again depending on the saltiness you wish to obtain

Heat water, Bragg’s, and chicken-style seasoning in a large frying pan.  Add the Soy Curls and continue heating over medium-high heat, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  Continue cooking, not stirring the curls as often to allow them to brown.  Cook until most of the soy curls are toasty browned in places.  They won’t get completely browned unless you decrease the recipe significantly so that they can be spread out thinner on the pan.  If they get too browned, they become tough.

Serve hot with stir fry, or serve cool/cold on salads.

Mazidra

When it’s too warm to want soup ~ or you are just tired of a winter of it ~ but too chilly to serve cold pasta or potato salad for supper, what do you prepare?  Mazidra to the rescue!  It’s half “soup” and half salad!  Picky eaters can leave out the toppings they don’t like (or mom can insist they eat them.)  Triple the recipe for a crowd ~ or for hungry teenagers!

The base of this recipe came from 100% Vegetarian, by Julianne Pickle.

 

Mazidra

Lentils:

  • 1 c. lentils (rinsed and “de-stoned”)
  • 2-3 c. water
  • 1/2 c. (or more) chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 3/4 tsp. garlic powder if you’re in a hurry)
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet basil
  • 3/4-1 tsp. salt (esp. use less if you only put in 2 c. of water)
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. Spike
  • 1 T. nutritional yeast flakes
  • 4 drops Liquid Smoke (don’t add too much, or it overwhelms the dish)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a touch of honey

Rice:

  • 1 c. brown rice
  • 2 c. water
  • 3/4-1 tsp. salt

Toppings (choose your favorites):

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced cucumbers
  • chopped onion (green or Spanish)
  • Sliced olives
  • avocado
  • non-dairy sour cream
  • non-dairy cheese or cashew cheese

Combine all lentil ingredients and bring to a boil.  (If you like soupy lentils, then use the full amount of water.  If you use the lesser amount, watch the level of broth toward the end of the cooking time.  When it gets just the way you like it, cover the pot to finish cooking.)  Simmer uncovered 45-60 minutes.

Bring the rice ingredients to a boil in a covered heavy-bottom pot.  Cook at medium heat for 30-45 minutes, until water is absorbed.  When there is just a tiny bit of water – or none – in the bottom of the pan if you push the rice aside with a spoon to look, take it off the heat, stir, cover, and set aside until the lentils are finished.

Let each person build their own layered plateful of rice, lentils, and toppings.

Serves 2-4