I just finished reading The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America, by Michael Ruhlman and while it was interesting, it made me realize a couple of things. One is, I’m glad that I’m not a chef. It’s a hard life. I can barely take the stress of preparing three meals a day for two people, let alone service for tens or even hundreds. The second thing is, I could never go to the Culinary Institute of America. It should be called The Carcass Institute of America (though the book covers a period back in the 1990s, so things may have changed there). There is brief mention in the book of a class (one class mind you, not a full course) on vegetarianism, and it takes place in a basement room towards the end of one’s education at the Institute. Sounds pretty half-arsed and halfhearted to me.
However, I did glean something delicious from the book. The author describes a menu at one of the restaurants (where students do the cooking as part of their education) which included a wild rice salad with toasted pecan dressing. Sounded like a nice title for a recipe. I put down the book and jotted down some ideas. The result is this no-oil, animal-free salad. No butchering required.
Wild Rice Salad with Sweet Potato, Cherries & Toasted Pecans
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. brown rice miso
black pepper, to taste
1 medium-sized sweet potato, roasted, cooled, peeled and cubed
1 cup wild rice and brown rice blend, cooked and cooled slightly
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
dash salt & ground black pepper
dash of poultry seasoning
zest of 1/2 an orange
1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.
Add the salad ingredients and gently toss to combine. Let salad sit for a little while for flavors to meld – then serve at room temperature on a bed of fresh, crisp greens – sprinkled with additional toasted pecans, if desired.