Thursday is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. I’ll be celebrating in Portland, Oregon where I’ll be attending the annual conference for members of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
If I was going to be at home, though, I’d be inviting friends over for an Earth Day Eve potluck, asking my guests to bring a dish to share made with local/and or organic ingredients. We’d all gather around the TV to watch the Oscar-nominated documentary "Food, Inc." PBS will be airing the film on Wednesday evening as part of its P.O.V. (Point of View) series. Where I live, in northern Minnesota, Lakeland Public Television will air the film at 8:00. Check your local PBS listings for details in your viewing area.
I saw the documentary shortly after it was released when it was shown at The Fargo Theatre. It changed the way I shop for food. It changed the way I eat.
The film shows what happens on factory farms, explores the environmental impact of feedlots and examines the effect that government subsidies have had on our food systems, partucularly related to corn.
Watching the documentary may inspire you to rethink your stand on meat consumption. A few years ago I shared a recipe for a meatless wild rice salad. For months after that recipe was printed, readers were telling me how they had made it for potlucks, graduation open house parties, picnincs on the pontoon and weekend brunches. And, three years later, I’m still hearing those same kinds of things from readers who clipped the recipe from the newspaper and are still enjoying it.
I’m sharing it with all of you who didn’t get it that first time around. It’s so perfect for an Earth Day Eve potluck and movie night.
Pass up processed foods and prepare a meal from scratch. Where I live, in northern Minnesota, locally harvested wild rice and honey are abundant and ground buffalo is fresh from a local ranch. These ingredients can be enhanced with organic foods purchased from the grocery store.
Knowing where food comes from and how it is grown or raised allows consumers to choose safe foods. Combining these foods with organic foods from the grocery store can safeguard you and your family’s health as well as protect the health of our earth and our environment.
Full of nutty wild rice and beans, Hearty Wild Rice Salad can be served at room temperature, making it the perfect dish to take to potluck dinners and picnics under the sun. Once the wild rice is cooked, the salad quickly comes together with very little chopping involved. Seasoned with ground cumin and curry powder, this salad whispers a hint of Morocco.
POV shares some tips to help you host a fun and educational Food, Inc. potluck as well as some discussion questions to visit about after watching the documentary. Click here to go right to that information.
Hearty Wild Rice Salad
- 1½ cups uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed and drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can small red beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
- ½ cup sliced green onions
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Fill a large saucepan with 4½ cups of water. Add rice and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender, yet still a bit chewy. Drain any excess liquid. Rinse rice under cold water and drain well. Transfer to large mixing bowl.
Add chickpeas, beans, water chestnuts, green onions and dried cranberries to rice and toss to combine.
To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, cumin, curry powder, paprika, cayenne pepper and minced garlic. Gradually add the olive oil and whisk until blended.
Gradually pour dressing over rice mixture. Gently toss and continue to add dressing until all ingredients are lightly coated. If you have some dressing leftover, store it in the refrigerator in a jar.
Season salad with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature. The salad can be made ahead of serving time and refrigerated. Allow to come to room temperature and toss before serving. Makes 6 large main dish servings.
Tip from the cook
Meat lovers can add locally produced ground bison meat.