Spring has sprung!
Well, “sprung” may be a bit of a strong word. Spring has shown up. Kind of. The robins came back, if only because they’re programmed to. We still had snow on the ground last week. But at the moment the small amounts of warmth and sunshine that we’ve been graced with have produced soft buds on the raspberry canes, tiny, grassy stalks of pungent chives poking out of the leaf litter and an abundance of bunnies, which last year ate our peas down to stumps before they ever had a chance. Hmmm…
I’ve once again tired of winter’s heavy fare. Stews, thick soups, braised meats and hearty vegetables can go on hiatus for a while. I’ve grilled already and we’ve enjoyed a summery macaroni salad. Well, hubby and I have. The kids won’t touch “alternative” salads like those with pasta or grains, like this rice salad. More for us.
This particular creation came about partly because I’m also tired of lettuce salads with hothouse veggies and because I had leftover basmati rice and chickpeas begging to hook up. The curry powder provided a lovely bridge between them, and the pineapple and seasoned cashews offer a pleasing contrast both in flavour and texture.
I don’t mind the sharp taste of raw red onion in salads, but if you’re not a fan, you can simply saute them briefly with the chickpeas and garlic, or use green onion instead. Use any veggies you like. I bought green beans, which we’re getting from the U.S now (as opposed to Chile or Mexico or further afield during the depths of winter), but fresh or frozen peas or soy beans would work every bit as well. Once fresh herbs are again bursting from the garden, I’m sure parsley and even Thai basil will find their way into the bowl. I’m sure one could even find a way to work kale into the mix (I’m looking at you, Tiffany).
You may want to make more of the cashews. They make a wonderful snack all on their own (even better with a cold beer).
Rice Salad with Curried Chickpeas, Pineapple and Cashews
2/3 cup chopped fresh green beans (about 1cm pieces)
1 1/2 teaspoons oil, divided
1 cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 – 2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, divided
1 small clove of garlic, minced or grated
2 cups cooked and cooled rice (I used basmati)
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons diced red pepper
2/3 cup chopped fresh pineapple
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3/4 cup salted cashews
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the chopped green beans and boil for no more than 30 seconds. Immediately drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Pat dry and set aside.
Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 teaspoon of oil. Place the rice in a bowl and set aside. Pat the chickpeas as dry as you can and toss them with the oil in the hot pan. Add the garlic and 1 -2 teaspoons of curry powder and toss to coat, cooking just until fragrant. Remove from the heat and gently fold the seasoned chickpeas into the rice, along with the green beans, onion, peppers and pineapple. Sprinkle with the lime juice season with salt and pepper. Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight for the flavours to meld.
In a medium skillet, lightly toast the cashews until brown specks appear. Add the remaining scant half teaspoon of oil and quarter to half teaspoon of curry powder. Toss to coat and set aside to cool. Sprinkle them over the salad when you serve it so they don’t get soggy.
Serves 4 as a side dish.