This Grain/Pasta/Potato Salad is a Keystone Dish
This versatile dish can come from planned-overs, or trade out the grains for pasta or potatoes. It’s a grain, it’s a pasta, it’s a potato salad and confetti will rain down on your table!
Serves 8-10 as side dish. Can easily be halved.
This is a truly serendipitous recipe. While demonstrating the creative possibilities in building entrée dishes from side dishes, I dropped a pot of boiling water with near disastrous consequences. After much clean-up and saving graces Joe Yarid, my assistant, and I proceeded to create a memorable warm grain salad that could be served warm, room temp. or cold in any fine restaurant or covered dish event. The dressing is a Japanese-Mediterranean flavor bomb! — Recipe by B. Hettig
NOTES: For a colorful confetti effect, dice veggies uniformly to corn kernel size
ALTERNATE STARCH: If you have cooked grains or macaroni plan on using 50-50 ratio of grain to confetti veggies. This will make a quick planned-over pasta confetti salad. If you have potatoes, boil or roast until tender and chop, then add veggies and dressing while still warm.
AS ENTRÉE COURSE: Fold in canned tuna, any variety of cooked beans, marinated tofu, diced ham at Step 3
RICE PREP: Note, I also like combining with pearl barley for added texture
- olive oil- 2 TBS
- scallions- 1 cup, white part only, diced. Greens reserved for confetti veggies
- sea salt- 1 tsp
- brown rice- 2 cups
- fresh corn niblets- 2 cups, [4-5 ears fresh], or frozen, or canned. If using canned or frozen, omit cooking and add after rice is cooked with confetti veggies
- water- 4 cups
CONFETTI VEGGIES: Mix and match with other colorful veggies or planned-overs like:
- green beans, beets, celery, carrots
- bell pepper- orange, or yellow, 1 cup, diced
- scallion greens- 1 cup (2-3), minced
- cucumbers- 1 cup, diced
- tomato, fresh- 1 cup, diced
- fresh cilantro- 1/2 cup [or parsley], chopped to yield half cup
DRESSING: Also great on salads or as a sauce, so make it in larger batches
- olive oil- 1/4 cup (extra-virgin is better)
- sea salt- 1/2 tsp
- lemon zest- 1 tsp grated
- fresh lemon juice- 2 TBS, or lime juice
- ume plum vinegar-* 3 TBS, find at natural food and Asian stores
SUBSTITUTIONS: If you have other veggies already cooked like broccoli or beets, add or substitute to create 4 cups of confetti blend.
- Heat oil in a medium sized pot and add the rice and salt, sauté until rice begins to brown and become fragrant— about 5 minutes
- Add the corn niblets* and water and bring to a boil [if using canned or cooked cooked corn omit here and add with other veggies
- Stir once and cover and simmer for 45 minutes, then move off heat and without lifting lid, rest for 5 more minutes
- 2 Meanwhile, prepare the confetti vegetables and make the dressing
- When rice is done pour into large mixing bowl and add the confetti vegetables, chopped herbs and enough dressing to evenly coat the mixture
Serve warm, at room temperature or even cool. Even better later in the week.
FINAL NOTES: The dressing soaks into warm grains better. After a few days in the fridge, refresh with a squeeze of lemon juice. Also add in additional herbs: mint and/or basil to spice up the flavor.
I love topping with ground, roasted sesame condiment called “gomasio.” It adds a nutty and rounded taste at the table
* Ume plum vinegar is a Japanese condiment more like a sour brine, than a vinegar. It is a great kitchen staple and marries well to fried corn and soup dishes. It’s inexpensive and a key sauce helper in my kitchen.