Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Savory Harbinger of Summer: Southwest Rice and Corn Salad

This is the second post in what is shaping up to be my Springtime Lemon Series. So....I was thumbing through the latest issue of Bon Appétit when I came across a recipe that sounded delicious, though decidedly out of season. I mean, come on! It calls for fresh corn, summer squash, and different kinds of peppers! Shouldn't this have been in the August issue? Nevertheless, I made it with corn on the cob from Mexico and other hothouse-grown veggies no doubt, but I must tell you, it was the MOST AMAZING salad!

Truly, this shall be my go-to salad of the summer. Not only will it showcase all the good eats from my garden and local farmstands, it would be perfect for all of those picnics and barbecues, because it's not mayo-based, and it's yummy when served cold or at room temperature. Moreover, it is like two side dishes in one--starch and veg--that would be wonderful alongside any grilled meat or fish.

File this one away, folks. You'll need it in a few more months! :-D

Southwest Rice and Corn Salad with Lemon Dressing
Bon Appétit, May 2010)
Yield: 8 side-dish servings

1 cup long-grain white rice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I used half lemon and half lime)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 2 ears) or frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup chopped fresh poblano chiles
1 cup diced seeded yellow bell pepper (or orange or red!)
1 cup 1/2-inch cubes yellow zucchini (I used both green and yellow)
1 avocado, halved, peeled, diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

*I also added a couple of cloves of minced garlic

Cook rice until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Drain again. (Hmm...just noticed this direction. I did not rinse my rice, and the salad came out just fine.) Meanwhile, whisk lemon (and lime!) juice and 3 tablespoons oil in small bowl. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat one tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.* Add corn, poblanos, yellow bell pepper, and zucchini. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are just tender, 6 to 7 minutes; scrape into large bowl. Add rice, avocado, green onions, cilantro, and dressing; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

*On the advice of a poster at epicurious.com, I decided to roast my veggies in the oven rather than saute' them, to give them more flavor. On a half sheet pan, I tossed the corn kernels, diced peppers and squashes with the tablespoon of olive oil plus salt and pepper, then roasted them at 450 for about 20 minutes, or until they just started to take on some good color around the edges. (Later this summer, I might even cook the veggies on the grill!) Also, I sprinkled on a bit of red pepper flakes when roasting the veggies, but next time, I will throw in a couple of serranos and/or jalapenos along with everything else for a little more heat than the poblanos give by themselves.

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