When I was in grad school, my group of friends was primarily international students. Could be because I was president for a while of the International Student Club – wow, that is an old memory. Could be because I spent 1.5 of my college years in Germany studying and got to know the globalness of food and the multitude of variations that taste great . At any rate, we used to have frequent parties and they were always potluck. I really learned a lot about international cooking starting way back then (very late 80’s and early 90’s). I learned how to make samosas from my Pakistani friend. Curry from my German roomie who had lived in India. Vietnamese spring rolls and pho from my Vietnamese roomie. I still make these things today. Well, I haven’t yet tried GF samosas but they are next on my list for the next finger food party. One curious thing I learned to cook from a French exchange student, who’s name escapes me at the moment, was Salad Nicoise. This was a rice salad version -which I have never seen since. But count on a broke college student to figure out how to make a salad go further. I am no longer sure exactly what the original dish had in it as I have morphed it into my own over the years. It is a great picnic salad.
I am making it today to take with me to Michigan Envirothon, a high school environmental competition. Most states have Envirothon and ours happens to be run out of our department and I am the assistant to the assistant, sort of. The dilemma is that is it being held at a camp on Lake Huron and that I am uncertain of what I will eat there (they have a very carby menu). Thus, I am making my own food to bring. I plan to make some hummus, GF brownies and a loaf of bread so that I can cook up a grilled cheese sammie. I am bringing lots of delicious expensive cheeses to pamper myself, peanut butter, bananas, celery and carrots, oh, and crackers. They generously offered to let people use their fridge and will help cook any meal that you need. But I will be too busy, so, bring my own. There is one other person who will be there who also has Celiac and we have been trading cook books. I know I will have help eating the brownies at least.
Salad Niciose – the rice replaces the lettuce in this one for more sustenance
1 cup rice – cooked and cooled = 2 cups or so
2 small tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1/3 – 1/2 of a cucumber chopped
1/2 of frozen corn or more if you like
4 green onions sliced – greens and whites
1/2 a can of artichokes cut in quarters – use the whole can if you want
2 small cans of tuna – I used the tuna packed in oil and drained it off as I think it has better flavor
large hand full of nicoise olives – or any black olives you have – just not those canned ones they put on pizza – pitted and coarsely chopped.
Fresh herbs: I used parsley, tarragon, chives and a bit of oregano.
Dijon tarragon vinagrette
Traditionally capers and hard boiled eggs go in this salad too. I might add the capers later this eve. Sometimes I am in the mood for them and sometimes not. Egg whites, ever since I went glutenless, give me stomach cramps and I am too chicken to test them again, but I will soon, when I am ready to say bye to an afternoon, just in case. Eggs have always made me feel oogy, and it must have been the whites. No problem with the yolks, thank goodness. A gluten free life shouldn’t have to give up hollandaise!!! Or creme brulee.
And the brownies – can’t forget the brownies. This was Bob’s Red Mill mix with a cream cheese filling mixed in and a bag of chocolate chips. I find the Bob’s mix a bit tangy, but had the mix on hand. A little more chocolate always helps.