Last Saturday, Rich and I set aside the afternoon to enjoy the backyard together. Lunch time rolled around and the warm weather made me feel like having a refreshing salad. It's been hard to get the wonderful foods of Hawaii off my mind and palate, so I decided to try and make something island-inspired for lunch. I went to the fridge and looked around for ingredients - I found a cabbage that needed to be used, a red bell pepper, a pineapple, and some leftover chicken breast. I decided to make sort of an Hawaiian cabbage salad. I chopped everything fine and I added a few other things like chives from the garden, toasted sesame seeds, and a few chopped macadamia nuts. I remembered the wasabi vinagrette we had in Hawaii and set out to make it.... I emulsified a little honey mustard with mostly olive oil, adding a little sesame oil, and some rice vinegar. It needed a bit more sweetness so I added a squirt of honey and I seasoned it with a little salt, pepper, and a touch of wasabi powder... it worked! I tossed it all together, and to give it a little wow factor, I made mini pineapple and strawberry kebabs to garnish the bowl (I break wooden skewers in half to make them mini). I have been buying Costa Rican pineapples at the store lately, and they are every bit as good as the ones we had in Hawaii. If you happen to find one, treat your family - they're delicious!
I love coconut anything! I make my baked goods and granola with coconut oil, and use unsweetened shredded coconut in granola and anything I can. When I go to Whole Foods, I often pick up a container of freshly cut coconut (in the produce refrigerated section) and munch on it while I shop. Our recent obsession (a couple WDW's back), Brazilian Salmon Stew, utilizes coconut milk, which is a beautiful product. Here are a couple more wonderful things to do with coconut milk that I tried last week. I like to buy the real stuff and Whole Foods has it organic even, for about $2 a can. You can get the "light" kind at Trader Joe's, but the full-fat stuff is where it's at. The main health benefit of coconut is in its fat, so don't get the kind that has removed all that goodness and flavor.
Easy! Just substitute 1 can of coconut milk and about 3/4 can water to 1 cup rice. I used white basmati rice for this one. (I usually make brown rice, but for this recipe, white works the best). Treat the coconut milk like you would liquid in the rice, and prepare as usual. The result was fluffy, flavorful and rich tasting rice- my family flipped over this!
Every day in Hawaii we treated ourselves to one of these at the pool. Try these at home and sip outside on a warm day- your kids will love them. If you have a good blender these are a snap. Just use equal parts coconut milk and pineapple juice (we bought the Dole refrigerated kind). Sweeten to taste with a little powdered sugar (about 2 good tablespoons for a couple cups of liquid), and throw in a small lemon slice (rind and all) if you have one. Blend that all together and add ice (crushed works best) to desired consistency (we like ours thick and slushy). These are so delicious and refreshing, and actually healthy too! Enjoy!