Lucky Comestible 5 (3): Confetti Quinoa and Wild Rice Salad with Cilantro (or Parsley)

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this fifth edition, I’m focusing on cilantro. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. This is the third entry on cilantro.]

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Those of you who live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) will likely nod your heads and roll your eyes in empathy when I mention that we’ve been having terrifically odd weather this summer.  One moment it’s sunny and arid as Las Vegas (minus the neon and replica Eiffel Tower, of course), the next as cold and damp as Dracula’s bedroom. This week, it’s hot and humid, with temperatures around the 25C (77F) mark, more typical of July in Toronto.

This year notwithstanding, I do love summer.  As a teen, I was an avid devotee of sun worship (sounds like a cult, doesn’t it?). But with fears of overexposure, UV damage and skin cancers abounding these days, I bet the term “sun worshipper” doesn’t even exist any more.  Maybe we’re more like “sun admirers from afar.”

I must have inherited the predilection from my mom, who spent most of her summer afternoons planted on a lawn chair in our back yard, head tipped back and face directed skyward as if she were getting a wash at a hair salon. Mom could remain motionless that way for hours, until her skin turned deep bronze with just an undertone of dead lobster.  But she loved it; and even though her chest eventually began to show the telltale rivulets and fissures of overexposure, her face always remained smooth and unwrinkled, appearing years younger than her chronological age, right until the day she died (which had nothing to do with skin cancer, as you might imagine).

When I was about 14, one summer I decided that I had to acquire a “real” tan.  Being naturally pallid (my skin is normally the shade of a block of raw tofu*), I knew I’d have to work up to it gradually.  So I slathered on Johnson’s Baby Oil (the more “mature” among you will remember those days) and set myself the task of sunning first for 5 minutes, ten the following day, then fifteen. . . I think I worked myself up to about half an hour before I got so bored I had to go inside.  (On another note, can you believe we used to slather ourselves with BABY OIL, literally frying our skin in the sun like human wontons?  To make matters worse, we’d often use sun reflectors around our faces, to intensify the rays. . . like Dorian Gray, I’m waiting in dread fear for the day when that summer starts to show its effects).

I did achieve the sought-after copper hue, though.  At the end of August, I arrived at a neighbour’s house to babysit, and (after she glanced at my deeply burnished epidermis), she exclaimed, “Gee, I didn’t know your family spent the summer in the Caribbean.” Victory!

Well, that was the last time my skin was any shade darker than straw.  These days, I don’t spend nearly as much time outside.  For some reason, as I grew older, I developed a strong aversion to anything entomological (even those cute little Volkswagens make me cringe).  As a result, I much prefer to be outdoors during the day when it’s hot and sunny and even the ants retreat to the shade.  Bar-B-Q’s or dining al fresco on summer evenings just means I’m another one of the appetizers at the buffet, as the mosquitoes feast on my pale, exposed skin.  Ouch. ( The HH, whose natural complexion is somewhat tawny, will often remark, “It’s fine out here.  There are no bugs.”  That’s only because he’s not their meal of choice.  Well, that’s one type of rejection I’d actually welcome, thanks.).

Whether or not you like to spend evenings on the patio in summer, this Confetti Salad works beautifully in the heat.  The mosaic of colors effectively reflects the tangle of flowers, grasses, and fresh produce that adorn many gardens and farmers markets at this time of year, their variegated colors competing for first billing in the bowl.  I love the brilliant yellows and reds from the corn and peppers, the variety of textures, tastes, and colors that share space in this salad.  The dressing is light and crisp, composed of lots of lemon and a hint of sesame oil.

This dish was a perfect use for some of the wild rice I received as a gift from Courtney; coupled with inspiration from a favorite recipe in Calci-Yum, it’s an ideal salad to serve to guests at an impromptu summer dinner party.

Now I just have to hope it rains so we can eat indoors.

*How’s that for a sneaky veg*n reference?

 

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Other posts in this series:

Other Lucky Comestibles:

Last Year at this Time: Flash in the Pan:  Mex-Ital Tofu Scramble

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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Comments

  1. Your stories are always the best, I love reading your posts!

    And the recipe, mmm yummy!

  2. ohhhhh, it’s beautiful! it really is confetti-like. food rainbows are the best!

  3. That confetti salad is just beautiful! I bet it’s great to eat too 🙂

  4. Oh yum! This looks fresh & gorgeous. I want to eat some right now!!

  5. Well, you’ve described my teenage summers perfectly. Except I only tried baby oil once, preferring Sea and Ski or Coppertone. And I didn’t need a reflector since those summers were spent on the beach. I wish I could go back in time and “unwork” on my tan, but I guess I’m stuck with whatever sun damage I incurred.

    That close-up of the salad is terrific, by the way.

  6. I remember my mum pointing out a classmate’s mother at the pool and saying that our skin would turn leathery like hers if we spent as much time in the sun. I spent so much time outside as a kid I was quite brown but I am fairly pasty-skinned these days – though not as much as when I lived in scotland – even my watch mark disappeared. I think I found sunbaking quite boring too but I love to swim.

    The salad looks lovely – am glad it reflects the gardens in toronto in summer rather than in Melbourne – ours are quite bleak and beige unlike in winter when we have lots of green!

  7. It is so cold here now – reading about hot weather and summer has put a smile on my face. I am saving this recipe to try once it warms up a little 🙂

  8. Lovely post, Ricki.
    We’ve been having weird weather down here too. Wettest summer I can remember, actually. Our AC broke, so I’m glad it’s been unseasonably cool for a while. ;D

  9. Haha, love the story! I am the same way when it comes to laying out in the sun, after 30 minutes I’m bored and ready to head inside. I am naturally a bit tan, as I am Italian, but I still don’t get very tan in the summer since I really don’t hang out outside during the day a whole lot. I used to be obsessed with getting a tan though, when I was younger. I’m glad I’ve learned my lesson!
    Thanks for the recipe. The salad looks gorgeous!

  10. Ricki,
    I love this story!
    This salad looks great- reminds me that I love wild rice and don’t make it nearly enough! I love chopped salads, too, the finer chopped the better, so you can use a spoon and not a fork and don’t have to wrestle with unruly pieces of lettuce, cilantro, etc!

  11. This is almost exactly what we had for dinner last night, save the wild rice! We really have a great deal in common! I have memories of the University students in my city laying out in the sun when there were still snowbanks. Serious.

  12. this does sound perfect for warm days! we’ve had more rain… being my least favorite form of precipitation, i’ve had enough 🙂

  13. Unfortunately, I fall into the category of people who do stupid (and probably unsafe) things to get a tan too. Your salad looks so pretty! It sounds delicious too, I am definitely making this one soon.

  14. kitchenspoon says:

    Ha! Your story cracks me up–I’m right there with you, sister. Everyone in my family has a beautiful olive complexion and adores basking in the summer sun, getting more and more bronzed by the hour. Me? Sans baby oil (but with loads of lemon in my hair) managed to get FRIED and had to spend the rest of my sun time “hiding” under an umbrella. Oh the days! Thanks for the picnic recipe: this Confetti Salad looks great…sesame oil…mmmm!

  15. Oh! This dish is just beautiful!

    I fear if I made it, I would be compelled to take handfuls of it and throw it gayly overhead!

    And in TO, we have our own version of a neon eiffel tower repica, don’t we?…It’s called the CN tower, and at night it’s decorated with lights that give it all the allure of a…stripper pole?

  16. Well, if that isn’t just the prettiest salad I ever did see! 😀

  17. Despite the rain, it’s been nearly perfect walking weather. This is one fine dish. Quinoa and wild rice are two of my favorites. A perfect summer dish!

  18. Such a glorious, fresh, cheerful summer salad, especially with all the beautiful colors! I love the combo of quinoa and wild rice – such a great pairing of fluffy and nutty textures!

    I’m pale as tofu too… 🙂 I love the simile! 🙂

  19. Courtney says:

    Hey–white is the new tan! I have the same complexion as you, it sounds like (tofu! I love it!), and if I am going to be in the sun I slather up with sunscreen. Pale = cool, right?!

    That salad sounds great, and is so vibrant and colorful–perfect for a summer get-together!

    Courtney

  20. I just can’t say no to quinoa. thank you for the great recipe, Ricki!

  21. Shelby,
    Aw, thanks! And the recipe thanks you, too. 😉

    Nora,
    I guess that’s how this type of salad got its name! But I agree–a rainbow of colors is the healthiest, too!

    Jes,
    Yep, quite deelish!

    Jennifer,
    It makes a huge amount–I would have gladly shared!

    Andrea,
    Oh, we used Coppertone, too. And I’m also wishing I could undo some of those summers (and not just because of tanning!) 😉

    Johanna,
    Well, your mum must have pointed at someone with my mother’s chest. And your winters sound more like summer to me–I had to laugh at the thought that anything could grow here in winter!

    Rosemary,
    Surprising that it’s cold in Cape Town! But our summer has also been uncharacteristically cold.

    Deb,
    Yep, I guess it’s weird all over! And I’d be pretty much lost w/o the AC in summer–the humidity alone is enough to fell me!

    Gina,
    Thanks so much! I think my tanning days are over, too.

    Winnie,
    I love your take on chopped salads–so true!

    Shellyfish,
    Yes, students did that at U of T when I was in residence, too! I remember leaving for March break (1st week of March–still very cold here) and students were out on the balcony suntanning!

    ttfn300,
    You said it, sister! Rain, rain, go away. . . don’t come again.

    Kiersten,
    Hope you use sunscreen at least! And glad you like the salad. 🙂

    kitchenspoon,
    I love the lemon-in-hair addition! Did it work?

    Alex,
    Well, it’s sort of got rice in it, too, so you might be able to get away with it at a wedding. . . oh, and I will never think of the CN Tower the same way again!

    Kelly,
    Aw, thanks!

    Lisa,
    That’s a very optimistic way to view the rain. I think I’ll try to look at it that way from now on.

    Astra Libris,
    Well, at least the salad has lots of color, even if we don’t! 😉

    Courtney,
    Yep, I use 50 SPF when I go out! And even walking the dogs every day, I’m still tofu.

    Celine,
    I’m also in love with it. And it pairs so well with the wild rice here. 🙂

  22. I am so glad to see you have returned to blogging, I do enjoy reading your posts. 🙂
    I too am of the pale complexion. I would never even attempt to get a tan, because my skin has only one reaction to the sun, and that is to go lobster red and super sore, and then my freckles get darker. I have red hair anyway, so I’d just look like a giant carrot or something. LOL.

    For the longest time I hated cilantro. I would have an actual physical reaction to the taste and even the smell! But it is in so many recipes that one day I decided to try and get myself to like it. I started with some Cilantro Sour Cream to ease myself in, and now I love it and even sometimes crave it!

    I am looking forward to trying out that tofu recipe – it sounds amazing. 🙂

  23. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. Is consists of so many of my favourite ingredients, and it looks beautiful, too.

  24. You’re right, I can’t believe people actually used to tan like that!

    Your salad looks lovely.

  25. What a gorgeous – and certainly delicious – summer salad! I have yet to try cooking with wild rice, but this recipe seems to be the one that’ll make me do it.

  26. This looks like a great summer salad! I love all the things you have mixed in there. I don’t think I’d ever put 2 grains togther in a salad but love the idea. For some reason the thought never occurred to me. I’m with you on eating inside! When I was younger my family liked eating dinner outside sometimes but I hated it so I’d sit at the dining table inside and they’d sit outside and we’d just see each other through the sliding glass door.

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