On Cooking Southern: Asparagus, Rice, and Orange Salad and Copper Carrots

asparagus-rice-orangesalad-DSCN6665Southernism of the Week: 

Keep it up and I’ll cancel your birth certificate: Exactly what it implies — a threat to end the offender’s nonsense once and for all, and permanently. Think Rebels being taunted by too many cowbells…

OH HAPPY SPRING, HERE AT LAST. LET’S ALL LIGHTEN UP.

After a weeks-long seafood jag, The Old Bride’s latest culinary focus has been on various cooking oils and vinegars. So this week, my darlings, we are tucking into a couple of tasty, but light, dishes that work splendidly either as a salad or as a side to accompany a meat, fowl or fish dish.

TANGY ASPARAGUS, RICE AND ORANGE SALAD

I was looking for an excuse to combine the current crop of asparagus in a salad with some of the fabulous cranberry and pear infused white balsamic vinegar I had purchased at The Mighty Olive in Memphis. My experiment resulted in a dish that works well served either HOT OR COLD. I’m thinking some grilled chicken tenders or grilled jumbo shrimp would be tasty served with this salad. 

2 c rice (I prefer basmati)

5 c water

1/2 tsp salt

3 cloves of garlic, minced

6 green onions, chopped fine

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 c cranberry-pear infused white balsamic vinegar

1 c extra light olive oil

1 bunch fresh asparagus spears

2 T olive oil

1 c sliced almonds

1 tsp sea salt

3 T fresh lemon juice

Segments from 3 Cuties oranges

1/2 c Craisins

Combine rice and water in a medium saucepan with salt. Bring to a boil on medium and simmer to reduce liquid, gently folding the rice twice before covering and turning off heat. Leave on the burner fro 10 minutes, then remove from stove and ladle into a large mixing bowl, gently tossing to break apart the rice and accelerate cooling.

Prep the asparagus by snapping off woody stem bases, and gently scraping woody stalks as needed (smaller asparagus require less scraping). Rinse and cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Place in steamer basket, and steam until tender.

Combine the garlic, onions, pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Whisk until emulsified. Pour over the cooling rice and toss to coat completely.

Sauté the almonds in skillet in 2 T olive oil until golden. Add the asparagus to the almonds and stir in sea salt. Pour into the rice mixture and toss to mix completely. Adds lemon juice and toss again. Fold in the craisins and orange segments. Serve hot, or chill in fridge and serve as a salad. Yields about 10 servings.

COPPER CARROTS (COPPER PENNIES)

coppercarrots-DSCN6633This marinated salad is an old Southern favorite that my hubby’s North Carolina family served frequently. NOTE that I use extra light olive oil in my version. The Holly Springs Garden Club is serving my version April 11 and 12 at their Plant it Pink fundraising luncheons during the Spring Pilgrimage.

2 pounds of carrots, cleaned, skinned and sliced

1 can tomato soup

1 medium white onion, chopped

1/2 c green bell pepper, chopped

3/4 c white distilled vinegar

1/2 c extra light olive oil

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp prepared yellow mustard

1 c white granulated sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook sliced carrots in salted water until tender but still firm. Plunge into ice water to cool. In another pan, heat tomato soup with vinegar, oil, sugar and spices. Drain the carrots. Gently toss with the onions and bell pepper. Pour heated tomato soup mixture over the vegetables. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Lasts about 2 weeks refrigerated. VARIATION: Add small cooked shrimp and several slices of red onion before serving.

Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian, and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ),Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA)  and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SOFAB). Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ web site: www.tripleheartpress.com and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@LaurieTriplette).