Last night I went to a pot luck dinner with Charlotte Food Bloggers. My friend Emma, the Southern Cake Queen, suggested I check this group out since I’m a budding food blogger and I need all the help I can get. I’m a creature of habit and the idea of going out of my way to meet new people is not at the top of my list. And when I told my friends that I was thinking about going to a pot luck with other food bloggers in Charlotte they were shocked. I got a resounding, “You!?” My response: “Yes…Me!” Don’t get me wrong, I was a little intimidated by the idea of meeting serious food bloggers because Queen City Kitchen is a work in progress and half the time I don’t know what I’m doing. All I knew was that I love food and they loved food so we would be a match made in heaven. Besides, I needed something to do to break up the monotony of housework, laundry and fishing some flushed action figure out of the toilet.
Well, the evening turned out great. Charlotte Food Bloggers are awesome! Everyone was just so open and welcoming. I hung out with some pretty cool people. The pot luck theme was Mardi Gras so we enjoyed muffaletta sandwiches, jambalya, red beans and rice salad, Mardi Gras sugar cookies and carmel banana cupcakes. My contributions to dinner were the red beans and rice salad and the cupcakes. I couldn’t figure out if I wanted to bring a dessert or a salad so I brought both.
The red beans and rice salad is one of my go to meals. I love cold rice so this recipe is perfect for me. It’s full of fresh vegetables and beans, tossed together with a light vinaigrette. I started adding diced ham to the salad to make it a little more man friendly. Now I no longer hear, “What, no meat?” This salad is an all around great side dish or lunch time meal. And it was perfect for a Mardi Gras pot luck.
Red Beans and Rice Salad, adapted from Taste of the South
Makes 8 servings
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups Jasmine rice
Creole Vinaigrette, recipe follows
1 (15-ounce) can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can light kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 pound thick-cut deli ham, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 green onion, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh celery leaves
Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in the rice, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the rice sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Pour in the Creole vinaigrette over the rice and stir to combine.
Add the beans, ham, bell pepper, celery, tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano and celery leaves. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning
Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, thyme, oregano and Creole seasoning in a small bowl until combined.