By Bonnie Fishman
One of my favorite sayings of the past decade is: “It’s enough already!” These words have many applications these days. The fires and drought out west; the floods in the south and east; and Congress deadlocked and polarized in Washington. It’s enough already! And then there’s the pandemic, the pandemic, the pandemic, being on hold for an hour because there’s nobody working anymore, waiting for a letter or package from the U.S. Postal Service that may never arrive, watching the price of food and gas rise to unheard of heights. It’s enough already!
If I take these global problems to a micro level and apply this phrase to my own life and those around me, I can begin to let go of the stuff that’s, well, enough already. Coloring my hair (I’ve gone gray), getting a spiffy manicure, buying a new car (mine is 11-years-old and still runs great), thinking about food that may not be good for me (too bad, I’m eating it anyway). It’s enough already!. I hear people say, “my kids whine” …”I can’t balance my checkbook”…”I’m working past retirement age because you can’t make ends meet on Social Security’”…”I have to wait in line for everything.” IT’S ENOUGH ALREADY! You get the picture. I say, let go of what is enough, you’ve had it up to here, you deserve the freedom of being unencumbered with certain people, things, or situations that are enough. Can you just hear Idina Menzel singing “Let It Go” from Frozen? She’s not wrong.
But when it comes to the vegetable garden, I have a different spin on enough is enough. I can't complain.. I have mountains of the ripest, sweetest cherry tomatoes. The best thing about our garden is that it was effortless to plant. No really. NO effort because our sweet contractor, Vince (Javier to his insiders), built us a huge raised cedar garden in front of our barn house, planted it, and put in an irrigation system. It was a surprise, put up while we were away packing up our Michigan house. Vince planted only two tomato plants: beefsteaks and cherry tomatoes. He used seeds from his past crop. These plants are ginormous. They have been producing fruit for almost four months and don’t seem to be letting up anytime soon thanks to the sunny California climate. The gift that keeps on giving.
This week’s recipe features the glorious, sweet cherry tomatoes. You can use any variety, such as grape or pear, or any color of small tomatoes, even mix them. This recipe gives you the opportunity to infuse your own creative input on the ingredients. I’m offering a vegan dish but I personally think the addition of feta cheese makes it “pop” with flavor and umami. Consider using pistachios in place of the almonds, chopped dates instead of raisins, or add briny olives for an over-the-top finish.
I’m wondering what Insiders might consider a nice addition to this tasty salad. And more importantly, what is your personal “It’s enough already”?
Cherry Tomato Rice Salad
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 1/2 c. water
3/4 c. basmati rice
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. olive oil
3/4 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 generous pt. cherry tomatoes
1/4 c. slivered toasted almonds
1/4 c. dark raisins
1 small orange, rind removed, cut into 1/2” pieces
1/4 c. chopped fresh mint
1/4 c. thinly sliced scallions, green part
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. olive oil
3/4 c. crumbled feta (optional)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
In a small pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the rice. Stir once, cover, turn down to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. Place the rice in a large bowl to cool, breaking up with a large spoon.
While the rice is cooking, heat the oil over high in a cast iron skillet or large sauté pan. Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. Cook spices for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the cherry tomatoes. Toss them about in the hot oil until they begin to burst, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. Reserve.
When the rice has cooled, add the almonds, raisins, oranges, mint, and scallions. Blend in the lemon juice and oil. Add the cherry tomatoes, scraping in the seasoned oil from the pan. Adjust the seasoning. Add feta if desired. Serve at room temperature.
Bonnie Fishman attended the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London. Later, she owned and operated Bonnie’s Patisserie in Southfield, Mich. and Bonnie’s Kitchen and Catering in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. She has taught cooking for over 35 years and created hundreds of recipes. She is now living in Northern California.