HAPPY RELEASE DAY to Victoria Abbott---THE MARSH MADNESS, and Cleo Coyle---ONCE UPON A GRIND!
I scribbled this recipe while skimming a Family Circle magazine in my mother’s hospital room in late July. Though the combination of ingredients seems odd, we had a bumper crop of cucumbers, and my hunny loves cantaloupe, so it had potential. Turned out to be quite a winner, actually. And I remembered to take photos. But then I lost the recipe—turned out I had already tucked it in my recipe binder, under salads. The downside of being organized! Or rather, what happens when you’re sometimes organized, and sometimes not, and can’t always tell the difference.
We remodeled a few years ago and bought a dual fuel GE range (gas top, electric oven) that we love. The only downside: Even the smallest burner is quite hot, and it’s hard to keep the heat low enough under a small, covered pan to cook rice without boiling over. But in his bachelor days, Mr. Right was a sushi fiend, so we have a rice cooker. Just the ticket for the absent-minded cook—especially if you’re making this salad on a hot day.
I made a few changes, using a blend of wild and brown rice, using plain rather than Greek yogurt, which I find too thick for dressings. The recipe calls for white balsamic vinegar, which is a great find—it’s not as fruity or rich as the dark variety, but adds a little of that characteristic tang. If you don’t have a bottle, a good white wine vinegar will do nicely. Nearly any recipe with raisins can also be made with craisins, and they go beautifully with wild rice.
This is a terrific side dish with chicken or salmon, and makes a great lunch the next day.
(And my mother? Just turned 90. The hospital stay was rehab after a spine fracture. Thank God for physical therapists and occupational therapists who know how to work with the elderly. And for bright red walkers that always look stylish.)
Wild Rice and Cantaloupe Salad1-1/2 cups uncooked wild rice or wild rice blend
2/3 cup plain yogurt (Greek yogurt is too thick for this recipe; use a standard variety)
½ cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups diced cantaloupe
2 cups diced cucumber
1 cup diced celery
1 cup raisins or craisins
½ cup sunflower seeds, toasted, or ½ cup roasted sunflower seeds (if salted, adjust the salt in the dressing to taste)
1/4 cup diced shallots
1/4 cup chopped parsley or mint
Cook the rice. If you’re using raw sunflower seeds, toast them in the oven at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. (They will not change color much; that’s okay—they’ll continue to cook as they cool.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayo, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Stir in the cooked rice.
Pour the dressing over the fruit and rice mixture and stir to coat.
Serves 6 and keeps well for several days, depending on the ripeness of your melons.
From the cover of BUTTER OFF DEAD (July 2015): As the national bestselling Food Lovers’ Village mysteries continue, the merchants of Jewel Bay, Montana try to heat up chilly winter business with a new film festival. But their plans are sent reeling when a dangerous killer dims the lights on a local mover and shaker …
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.
Connect with her on her website or on Facebook.