Coconut-Lime Rice Salad

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A few weekends ago I was coffee-dating and Anthro-browsing with my real-life/blog-life pal, Megan. We wandered into an olive oil/vinegar shop because Megan mentioned that they had a coconut white balsamic…and, I HAD TO try it. Had to, it happens.

So, I tasted the coconut vinegar, and it was so sweet-tart, coconut-y, and delicious…I had to have some. I’ve been daydreaming ways to showcase this vinegar and I kept coming back to fragrant jasmine rice. This salad comes together quickly and can be served warm, room temperature, or even cold. The vinaigrette is a savory-sweet and tart mixture of the coconut white balsamic, some persian lime olive oil, a little shallot, and sea salt. We shake up the vinaigrette in a jar and gently stir it into the still warm rice–for optimum dressing absorption. Toasty (unsweetened) coconut, nutty sliced almonds, and super-fragrant lime zest are fluffed into the rice.  Every bite has texture and flavor and fragrance. I can’t wait to serve this rice alongside grilled seafood…a late summer evening with a cool glass of something boozy will be a totally optional, yet highly suggested, accompaniments.

Coconut-Lime Rice Salad

Serves 4-6

I know coconut white balsamic and persian lime olive oil aren’t the most readily available pantry staples. You can use any vinegar and olive oil you’d like (I like the idea if rice wine  vinegar and a lighter olive oil), just add a little extra lime zest for good measure. For reference, I purchased the oil and vinegar from HERE (the Birmingham location). The man I talked to was super knowledgeable and had great suggestions. PS, I like my dressing/vinaigrettes to be pretty tart and bracing…so, add more olive oil if you prefer a  more smooth and lush dressing. 

1 cup jasmine rice, uncooked

1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut, toasted

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

2 limes, zested and juiced

1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons coconut white balsamic

3-4 tablespoons persian lime olive oil

big pinch of sea salt

Cook the rice. For a rice cooker–follow manufacturer’s instructions. On the stove-top, pour the rice into a medium saucepan add 1 2/3 cups water (I like a ratio of 1 part rice to just under 2 parts water, thus the 2/3 measurement, but if you have a tried and true method, use that). Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered tightly, for 15-20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Allow rice to rest, covered, for at least 5 minutes. Scrape the rice into a large mixing bowl and fluff gently with a fork. Set aside.

To toast the coconut and almonds, preheat the oven to 350˚F and spread the coconut and almonds on a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for about 4 minutes, stirring after the first 2 minutes. Watch the coconut and nuts carefully, as they can go from perfectly toasted to burned in a matter of seconds. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, toss with the lime zest and set aside.

In a small jar combine the lime juice (about 1 tablespoon total), minced shallot, coconut (or plain) vinegar, lime (or plain) olive oil, and a big pinch of sea salt. Fasten the lid on the jar and shake vigorously to combine. Pour the vinaigrette over the rice and fold gently with a rice paddle or rubber spatula to combine. Add the coconut/almond/lime zest mixture and fold in gently to combine. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.





Maple-Pumpkin Granola

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Sometimes, when stressed and trying not to eat a whole pizza worth of feelings, I turn to something crunchy. It’s just so dang satisfying and if I’m going to eat my feelings, my jaw should have to work a little for it.

Enter granola. I tend to make it pretty healthful–reaching for honey or maple in place of plain sugar, and filling it with plenty of seeds and nuts for texture and interest. Granola can be as plain-jane as you want it or as crazy as you’d like–it’s versatile that way. This batch is flavored with lots of maple for sweetness and fragrance, olive oil encourages maximum crunchiness, pumpkin makes a subtle earthy appearance, warm spices and toasty nuts + seeds add depth, thick-rolled oats add great chewy-crunchy texture. This granola makes a great pair sprinkled over yogurt or swimming in a bowl of milk. It’s also great, out of hand, for crunching through some stress.

Maple-Pumpkin Granola

Adapted from this recipe. 

I use Bob’s Red Mill Thick Rolled Oats here, which I find at any supermarket in the natural foods section. I like the more substantial chew of these particular oats, but any brand you like works just as well. The pumpkin isn’t front-and-center in this recipe, it’s mostly a background flavor, as the puree softens the oats and works against that crunchy texture so beloved in granola. Also, I added a variety of seeds and nuts–I usually just add whatever is left over from other recipes–feel free to switch them up or omit as desired. 

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

3 Tablespoons flax seeds

3 Tablespoons sesame seeds

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 Tablespoons plain pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 325*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl combine oats, nuts, coconut, seeds, salt, and spices. In a large measuring cup whisk together maple, oil, vanilla, and pumpkin. Pour the maple-pumpkin mixture over the oats mixture and stir to coat well. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet in an even layer and bake 15 minutes, stir, and continue to bake in 10-15 minutes intervals, stirring well between each, until the granola is uniformly golden and no longer moist. The granola will crisp a bit more as it cools. Store completely cooled granola in airtight containers for  1-2 weeks.