I have a question.
Do you ever borrow cookbooks from the library?
If you, like me, have so many cookbooks that your shelves are begging for relief, borrowing them from the library is a great way to have your proverbial cake and eat it too. From Park Avenue Potluck, to One Bowl Baking and even best-sellers and recent releases such as My Paris Kitchen (if you are patient), stacks of cookbooks are waiting for you to come, explore and support your public library!
But let’s face it, borrowing cookbooks enables me to really read the recipes and see if they look appealing before sacrificing precious shelf space in my kitchen. I can make a recipe or two and see what I think. Generally, I will photocopy the recipes that I want to try which has ranged from zero in some cases to seven or so in others.
Of the last 20 cookbooks I borrowed from the library, I purchased only one because of its setting, its stories and ultimately its recipes. More on that book another time, but it’s one of the above mentioned titles so you can probably guess! I think I made out pretty well!
Pet peeve, though. Why do people dogear books they don’t own? Hello? And why would you ever use a borrowed cookbook right next to your stove, unprotected, so that it can get splashed with whatever sauce you are making? Drives me crazy! Ok, now that I’ve vented…
I recently borrowed Yotam Ottolenghi’s gorgeous cookbook, Plenty, as I love Jerusalem, a book he co-authored with Tami Samimi which my friend, Dale gave me a few years ago. If you are unfamiliar with Ottolenghi, spend a little time on his website. Better yet, if you are fortunate to travel to London, consider visiting one of his four restaurant/delis. I have not been to them personally, but my foodie friend Carrie says they are not to be missed!
Plenty’s recipe for Mango & Coconut Rice Salad caught my attention. Made with a blend of jasmine and red rices, fresh mango, peppers, shredded coconut, peanuts and lots of herbs, this salad sounded colorful, tasty and just a little different from typical summer fare. Perfect for the barbeques that are happening everywhere right now, especially since it can be served at room temperature and can sit out without issue for an extended time.
I made it a few times and shared it with some friends who gave it the thumbs up! The salad has lots of elements – sweet from the mango, crunchy from the peanuts and peppers, mildly spicy from the hot pepper, and tangy from the lemon juice. This is not a heavily dressed salad which I like, especially at this time of year.
Instead of using two different rices which are cooked separately, I purchased a 4 Grain Rice Blend from my local farm stand that had both Brown and White Basmati, Wild and Red Rices. It worked perfectly fine and this way, the salad is more practical to make when you’d rather be outside than in front of a hot stove!
If you can’t find fresh mangos where you are, you can certainly substitute nectarines or peeled peaches. No peanuts? Toss in whatever salted nuts you have. No fresh red chile? Use half of a jalapeno. No coconut – well, then it just becomes a Mango Rice Salad I guess! Try not to skip the herbs if you can – they really make the salad sing. And if you do not have peanut oil, use either a vegetable oil or walnut oil. Olive oil will overpower the other flavors.
I think the salad looks like a little bowl of jewels. It is easily paired with fish, meat, chicken or pork.
Perfect to serve at the next barbeque you are hosting, or to bring to a potluck!
Now, get to the library and find a cookbook that inspires you! And please let me know what you find!