Cameron and I attended the same graduate school in Nevada, but he moved to Reno just as I was leaving for an adventure in Malaysia. While Reno is an incredibly complicated and interesting city, he and I didn’t relocate to the gritty city for the high stakes craps tables. We went for the niche Literature and Environment program at the university.
The L & E faculty brought together a unique tight-knit community of scholars and writers, so even though Cameron and I met only twice before I moved abroad, we were able to cultivate a long-distance friendship, in large part, because of our mutual friendships in the Biggest Little City in the World.
The program’s friendly, supportive environment helped us grow as thinkers and activists in the community, and we (students, faculty, and visiting scholars) often shared many hiking and backcountry camping trips in the austere high desert as well as in the Sierra Nevada mountains that whittled their way along the California-Nevada border. For a woman who’d grown up in the balmy Gulf coastal plain of southern Alabama, the Great Basin was unlike anywhere I’d ever lived.
Recently, Cameron shared a recipe with me that he learned from our mutual grad school friend, Jim. Salty and a little saucy, I can’t think of a better way to describe this recipe or Jim.
Like most of my Reno friends, Jim has now relocated for work. He’s living large as a college professor in Georgia these days. Though we haven’t spent time with him since he visited Texas a couple of years ago, dishing up this rice salad keeps our Nevada buddy in our thoughts.
Sonoma Soy-riffic Rice Salad
Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main dish
1 cup wild rice (we used a wild rice and brown rice blend), cooled in fridge
1 large orange bell pepper, diced
1 bunch of scallions, minced
1 cup edamame, shelled and cooked
1/3 cup almonds, slivered
1/2 cup sliced red radishes (optional)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon (Fresh is the definitely the best for this case.)
1. Cook rice according to its directions. Place in a large bowl, and cool in the refrigerator while you prep the rest of the recipe.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and tarragon.
3. To the cooled rice, add the bell pepper, scallions, edamame, almonds, and radishes (if using). Mix. Finally, stir in enough dressing to moisten the salad. Add only as much as your taste buds.
We almost never use the full amount of the dressing for this recipe, so we save the rest and drizzle it over our green salad.
For a light dinner, we’ll usually eat this salad with lightly sautéed shrimp, but with its edamame protein power, you can also enjoy the dish sans animal products. If you decide to go vegan style, I’d recommend a hearty baby kale salad with an unassuming dressing to complement the flavors of the rice dish.