Saturday, April 27, 2013

An Easy Spring Lunch: Coconut-Spinach Rice Salad

I'll be honest here: I don't remember where the original inspiration for this recipe came from. Thinking back, it must have been somewhere in the Creamed Spinach realm, but for us gluten/dairy-free-tards (Shh, don't tell those-who-be that I sometimes indulge in my favorite cheeses...) there HAD to be another substitute. And then I remember seeing a recipe for something green-plus-coconut rice salad. SCORE! Sounds kinda tasty, no?

So in a moment of laziness, I swapped lacinato kale (because my local market didn't have anything organic/up-to-snuff) out for frozen spinach (aka a time-crunched-cooks-best-friend). I upped the coconut factor with coconut milk and coconut flakes. A bit of cayenne for heat (I love!). Salt. Cilantro (for fun). And a mix of primarily wild rice, but because I had the space (and fellow-ingredient-capacity...) added some brown rice for kicks. Warning: It turned out more like a risotto-like salad than a grainy salad. Given my craving for "comfort" food during the stressful parts of the term, it's a good thing. But, I'll give you due warning. (Not a fan of "creamyish" rice? Swap out full-fat coconut milk for low-fat, and don't stir the rice. Let it cook low and slow until done as you like). 

To be honest, I didn't expect this recipe to taste as indulgent as it turned out! I've been in a bit of a (stress-induced) funk, and this (and a glass of red wine) served as my midweek remedy. And it was quite an effective one. It's perfect for a portable lunch, a dinner accompaniment for the perfect roast rack of lamb, or if you're really missing your western home (like I am at times), delicious with truffle salami from Salt Lake City and dried cherries... FOR BREAKFAST. I suggest trying a fried egg on top... perhaps a grating of Parm too. Then let me know how it goes :)

Easy Spinach-Coconut Wild Rice Salad

1 large shallot, sliced fine
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups rice (I used 1.5 cups wild, .5 cups brown rice)
2 boxes Cascadian Farms frozen spinach (not drained, defrosted)
1 can coconut milk
½ cup (more if needed) water 
Paprika and cayenne pepper, to taste
1 cup dried coconut flakes
2/3 cup chopped cilantro
Tamari almonds, chopped, for garnish

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, combine shallot and olive oil, sauteing over medium-high heat until tender. Add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes, until the grains are toasted. Add the spinach and cook until the moisture is reduced to nearly nothing. Season a bit and add the coconut milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are done to your preference, about 40 minutes, over low-medium heat. Add more water if needed. Season to taste with cayenne and paprika.

Once the rice is nearly done, add the coconut flakes. Cook 5 minutes. Then add the cilantro and season to taste. Serve with chopped Tamari almonds on top. 

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