Here in Austin there are so many musicians that many of them make a living by performing in house concerts. A music lover invites a musician to perform in his/her home, and invites friends and colleagues and friends of friends who each throw about $20 into a pot to pay the musician. Dinner is potluck and BYOB; there’s good conversation, good music (without the background din of conversation), and a warm, welcoming beautiful space. My husband and I have been fortunate to have connected with two families who sponsor house concerts, so many of our weekends are spent listening to good music with new and sometimes old friends.
There’s always the question of what to bring, and as you can imagine, I usually make dessert--a cake or pie or cookies. But it’s really too hot to turn on the oven, so I decided to make a substantial salad. It’s peach season here in Texas. Texas peaches are small, fragrant and very sweet. I wanted to experiment with having the peaches play off the taste and texture of toasted coconut flakes--my favorite way to eat coconut. This salad is easily portable, but I suggest that you hold the herbs and the pistachios and coconut flakes separately and mix them in at the last minute so they retain their color and crunch.
(Note about photo: I took the photo before I added in the herbs, nuts and coconut flakes.)
about 12 (can be halved or quartered easily)
For the salad:
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and finely minced
4-6 green onions, finely minced
1 TB finely grated fresh ginger
1 pound small barely ripe peaches (6-7 small peaches)
1/2-3/4 cup mint leaves (or a mixture of mint and basil), torn into bite size pieces
1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted till golden brown
Cook rice with a generous pinch of salt.
While the rice is cooking, make the dressing. Put all the dressing ingredients into a jar with at least a 3 cup capacity and shake well. Taste and adjust as desired.
Scoop the rice into a large mixing bowl and stir in about half of the dressing until completely mixed in. The rice will absorb the dressing as it cools to room temperature. When it is at or near room temperature, stir in the scallions, jalapeno, and grated ginger.
Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Halve the peaches, and place the peaches onto the grill pan, cut side down, till the cut edges start to brown and caramelize. Cut the halves into 16-25 small pieces. (Each piece should be about the size of a pistachio.)
Gently stir the peaches into the rice. If you’re serving this right away, add the rest of the dressing to taste, and then stir in the herbs, pistachios and toasted coconut flakes.
If you’re bringing the salad to a house concert, plan to stir in the dressing, herbs, nuts and coconut just before serving.