Finger Lakes Feast

Curried chicken salad with pomegranate seeds

This entirely vegetarian recipe is bursting with flavor. If you can possibly find it in a specialty foods store, use coconut oil – it has a butter-like consistency and a beautiful fresh aroma and taste. You can substitute white rice for brown, but make sure you don’t skip the mango salsa. The combination of its chilliness against the hot beans, and its sweetness against other spiciness, makes it the essential fulcrum of the dish. This is a memorable concoction created by one of America’s most renowned vegetarian restaurants.

Black Beans & Coconut Rice with Mango Salsa

BEANS

1½ cups chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, grated
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
(or ½ teaspoon dried)
½ teaspoon ground allspice
3 16-ounce cans of
black beans, drained
¾ cup orange juice
Salt, ground black pepper, and Tabasco sauce to taste

Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil until the onions begin to soften. Add the ginger, thyme, and allspice, and stir until the onions are very soft. Add the beans and orange juice and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly (mashing some beans with the back of a spoon for a thicker consistency). Add salt, pepper, and Tabasco.

RICE

2 cups brown rice (or white), uncooked
1½ teaspoons turmeric
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2½ tablespoons coconut oil
(may substitute other vegetable oil)
4 cups water
½ stick cinnamon

Sauté the rice, turmeric, and coconut flakes in the oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir constantly to coat everything with the oil. Add the water and the cinnamon stick. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the water has been absorbed (white rice will cook a bit faster). Remove from the heat and allow rice to sit for 10 minutes, then gently fluff.

SALSA

2 ripe mangoes, or frozen mango
chunks (may substitute pineapple,
papaya, or cantaloupe)
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1 tomato, diced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
½ of a fresh jalapeno pepper, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

Peel and dice the mangoes. In a large bowl, mix together the mangoes, cucumber, tomato, lime juice, salt, jalapeno, and cilantro. Let the salsa sit for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. Will keep refrigerated for a couple of days.

To serve, make a bed of rice, cover with beans, and spoon a large dollop of salsa on top.

Serves 4 to 6 people

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Curried Chicken Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

A perfect way to use surplus grilled or roasted chicken. Or just poach several raw chicken breasts in water with a pinch of herbs, salt, and pepper; they’ll be cooked through after simmering for 10 minutes. Then make the salad.

3 to 4 chicken breasts, cooked
½ cup slivered almonds or cracked walnuts
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 can (approx. 11 ounces) mandarin oranges
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
½ cup mayonnaise
2 to 4 teaspoons curry powder (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place cubed or shredded cooked chicken in a large bowl. Add the nuts, raisins/cranberries, celery, mandarin oranges, and pomegranate seeds. Stir gently.

Mix curry powder into the mayonnaise, then dress the chicken mixture with the curried mayo. Add salt and pepper – and more curry if needed.

Serve the salad on a bed of fresh greens.

Serves 4 to 6 people as a light main course.


excerpted from Finger Lakes Feast by Kate Harvey and Karl Zinsmeister, with photos by Noah Zinsmeister, published in 2012 by McBooks Press