Do you ever get harvest panic? As in: you've planted a garden, watched it grow, and now it is time to pick, pick urgently—everything is ripe, perfect, bursting! But at the same time it is August and you are working extra shifts and there's a baby due in a few weeks and the lawn hasn't been mowed and you spent your day off at the beach because really how much sun is left? And so the lawn stays tall and the weeds stay put and the arugula for fall hasn't been planted and there are peaches and cucumbers and tomatoes and beans to pick and you Must Do It Now but somehow this feeling continues for a week before you actually make it out there. Anyone?

It happens to me every year, and it's maddening.

But it's also incredibly satisfying when I finally there there. Take Saturday, for example. I didn't have time, but I went out anyway. It took almost an hour, but I came in with two colanders of ripe peaches, another two of pole beans, two quarts of Sun Golds, the first big ripe tomato, sixteen large cucumbers, and a bouquet of roses. 

I didn't get to vacuum the dog hair before work or do the dishes, but it didn't matter. We had peaches for breakfast yesterday and today, and a big cucumber and tomato salad last night. And for lunches for the week, I made my second batch of a brown rice summer salad I found in Edible Vineyard. (Side note: if you don't read that magazine, you really should. It doesn't matter if you live on or even visit the Vineyard—the photography and layout are beautiful, the writing is compelling, and I always find four or five recipes I can't wait to make.)

This one in particular is a keeper. For starters, it makes exactly the right amount—enough for our family of three to get about two meals out of it each, which is in my experience all you really want from most recipes. It's incredibly fresh tasting and summery, and it's simple enough for Sally but sophisticated enough for us. It's also a complete meal—whole grains, veggies, protein, good fats—which when we're this busy, goes a long way toward keeping us sane. August! It's here.


This is not a traditional tabbouleh. It is a stretch, in fact, to use that word, but salad doesn't seem quite right either. It's like a cross between the two—part veggie side, part meal—the perfect thing for an easy summer dinner or a picnic on the beach. The most important thing is to use fresh summer produce—crisp cucumbers and sweet onions, peppers, and tomatoes are what make the dish.
3/4 cup short grain brown rice
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
olive oil
fine grain sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
2 large cucumbers, chopped into chunks about 1-inch long and 1/3-inch thick
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/2 cup crumbled feta
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the rice with 1 and 1/2 cups water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, and cook, covered, for about 30-40 minutes, or until the water is soaked up and the rice is tender. Turn the heat off, leave covered, and set aside.

Toss the pepper and onion with olive oil and salt in a roasting dish. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until slightly charred and tender. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, toss the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, and feta together in a large bowl or container. Add the cooled rice, peppers, and onions along with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup olive oil. Toss well. Taste for seasoning and add more as needed. Serve chilled.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.