This boat-friendly recipe perfectly illustrates how I think about substitutions. On one hand, I almost hate to call it a “recipe” — there are so many options for each of the ingredients. But I hope it’s a good way for cooks who might be a little intimidated by making changes to recipes to see the variety of things you can do with a basic recipe, depending on what you happen to have available. And there are plenty of variations even if you don’t have any fresh foods!
This is also a great make-ahead recipe for a passage or a potluck — just make three or four times as much. Be sure to put it in a bowl with a really tight-sealing lid (see my favorite big storage/serving bowl) — it makes a big mess if the lid pops off!
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 can green beans, drained
1/2 can corn, drained
1/2 can kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 medium tomato, diced
10 grapes, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
4 dried apricots, quartered
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Combine rice, vegetables, fruits and nuts in bowl. Sprinkle seasonings over the top, then drizzle with the oil and mix gently. Add the vinegar and again mix gently.
Serve immediately or place in refrigerator or other cool place until ready to serve. It will last 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator, so it’s good to make ahead.
Now for a bunch of possible substitutions (and you might come up with more, depending on what you have on hand):
|Brown rice||Any other type of rice, pasta, cous cous, diced potatoes or barley (all cooked), crumbled ramen noodles (cooked or uncooked, don’t add flavor packet)|
|Green beans or Kidney beans||Garbanzos, black beans, lima beans, navy beans, peas, spinach (fresh or frozen), canned or marinated artichoke hearts (all drained)|
|Tomato||Cherry or grape tomatoes, canned diced tomatoes, diced peppers (sweet or hot depending on your taste), mushrooms (fresh are great, canned OK), black olives, diced avocado|
|Grapes||Bite-sized pieces of fresh oranges, mangoes, papaya, apples, pineapple, strawberries, or canned peaches, mandarin oranges, or pineapple|
|Almonds||Cashews, walnuts, pecans; raw chopped carrot, jicama, broccoli or cauliflower|
|Dried apricots||Almost any other dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries, dates, or bananas|
|Mrs. Dash||Curry, cinnamon (use a little more sugar), chili powder/cumin mix, garlic, soy sauce, Italian seasoning, tarragon – all to taste as strengths of spices can vary greatly|
|Balsamic vinegar||Wine vinegar, cider vinegar, white vinegar, lemon or lime juice (start with 1 tablespoon and add more to taste)|
Add some diced tofu if you’re trying to get more soy into your diet, and shredded cheese can be sprinkled over the top just before serving to increase the calcium content. Of course, you can use a different type of oil or a sugar substitute such as honey or a low-calorie sweetener.To make this into a chilled one-dish meal on a hot day, add a 6-ounce can (the size of a tuna can) of ham or chicken. Drain the meat, and break it into bite sized pieces. Mix gently and briefly to avoid turning the meat into mush. Serves 2 as a main dish for dinner.
NOTE: This Vegetable Salad was one of the first of my recipes to be published in Cruising World, and is still available on the CW People & Food web page.