I have some serious advice for all of those who are lucky enough to go to Trader Joe’s on a weekly (or daily) basis. I love Trader Joe’s. I love the weird fusion products and sampling station with tiny cups of coffee, and how the employees always ask about your weekend plans. I love how I’m surprised at how cheap it is, and I love their Mesquite Smoked Almonds.
But if you think you don’t like vegetables, maybe it’s because you’re buying them at Trader Joe’s. You’ve got to go to a farmer’s market, and spend an extra few bucks to get the good stuff. It will make a vegetable convert of you the first time you taste a sweet, perfectly tender tomato or crisp cucumber.
This meal makes the most of the produce you’re going to promise me to buy at the farmer’s market. No need to cook the veggies or overdress them. You’re going to chop them up, along with fresh dill and mint, season them with salt and pepper, and toss them with warm rice mixed with greens and chunks of salty feta cheese. The addition of marinated red peppers and red onion gives it some kick. Now toast some pine nuts, sprinkle on top, and drizzle the whole thing with good olive oil and lemon juice.
Warm rice and feta, cool, crisp veggies, bold, herby flavors and sweet summer tomatoes. This salad is going to satisfy a lot of cravings and teach you to enjoy your vegetables.
- 2/3 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 oz feta
- 1 handful arugula
- 1/4 small red onion
- 1/2 fresh red bell pepper
- 1 yellow heirloom tomato or Japanese tomato (any tomato NOT from the supermarket)
- 2 small sweet hot peppers or 1 roasted red bell pepper
- 1 small handful mint
- 1 small handful dill
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 1-2 tblspns olive oil
- 1/2 lemon
- salt and pepper
- Chop up the red onion and cover it with white vinegar, or water if you don’t have that. This will cut the flavor and pickle it a little bit.
- If the rice is cool, warm it up in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Crumble the feta and toss with the rice and arugula, until the arugula wilts a little bit. Place the rice mixture in a bowl. It’s important that you make the rice mixture separately from the veggies first, so that the feta and arugula melt a little bit with the warm rice. Salad is all about assembly- do it right!
- Chop up your peppers and tomato. I prefer smaller slices of fresh red bell pepper and bigger chunks of tomato. Now slice up the roasted red pepper or sweet hot pepper (confession- I love the sweet hot peppers from Trader Joe’s, but any pickled pepper will work). Now add the red bell pepper, tomato, roasted red pepper, and onion to the bowl with the rice mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
- Now is the time to dress the bowl. This salad doesn’t need much oil, so start with a little and build from there. Squeeze the lemon over the bowl and filter the seeds with your fingers.
- The garnish. Toast the pine nuts: put them in a dry pan over medium-high heat and stir frequently. Let them toast for three to four minutes, until they smell toasty and delicious. Set aside.
- Finely chop up the mint and dill and season the bowl with the herbs. Enjoy as is, or toss it all together. Serves 1.