The first signs of the approaching season appeared almost simultaneously on my fire escape and in my kitchen. My tomato and basil plants went out recently. I'm not sure what went on last season, but I lost all three plants. This year I shopped around in my favorite garden supply catalog, Spray- n- Grow
If any of you have a garden, you must try Spray-n-Grow. It's a miracle product that will increase the yield of all your fruit trees, vegetables, flowers, even house plants, and it's completely natural. (End of Advertisement) I got some "red mulch" in the hopes of preventing the scorching my tomatoes got last year and a bag of worm casings which work very nicely on tomatoes in addition to the weekly treatment with Spray-n-Grow. I know, it's a lot of fuss for three tomato plants, but we Italians love tomatoes out of the garden.
Another sure sign of summer coming on is the appearance of rice salad on my table. I guess all cooks have go to recipes for dealing with left over salad stuff. Rather than just making another green salad, especially during the summer, I love rice salad. It combines the great taste of rice with the summery goodness of salad and can be a side or main dish. You serve it at room temperature too so you never have to worry about it while you're waiting for those grilled steaks. Like all salads, you can put anything in it, but I always include fresh corn with it.
Begin with abborio rice. I use my wife's method for preparing rice. Start with a larger than you need quantity of salted, boiling water. Add the rice, stirring once and let it cook uncovered for about 15 minutes before you start tasting it. It should be tender, but still have some "tooth" in the middle. While it's cooking, steam an ear of corn. I added some stir fried onion, red pepper seeded jalapeno and mushrooms, but you can put virtually anything in this salad that you can imagine. After adding in the cooked ingredients, I spread the rice out on a large flat dish to cool.
While I'm waiting for the rice to cool, I started my Yellow Fin steaks in a hot grill pan.I brushed them with oil and a little salt beforehand, and turned them to develop grill marks. They need about 2 minutes per side depending on how thick they are.
After the rice had cooled sufficiently, I added olives, tomatoes and avocado to the salad. Since I had those avocado/jalapeno flavors going on, I made my dressing with lime juice, olive oil, oregano and garlic powder. Don't add the dressing till you are ready to plate the salad. Some of Trader Joe's Salsa Verde finished my fish giving a southwestern flair to dinner.
I finally finished the last of that red bell pepper!