What’s in a name? Welcome to the world Aaron Noah Wilkerson and Pinto Rice Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

You’ll have to bear with me and read a while to get the recipe for this salad.  Yum.  It needs a better name.  Be thinking as you scroll down.

What IS in a name?  I’m pretty good with words–usually.  But once in a while I’m just stuck for a name for a recipe I’ve developed.  Once it was, “What do you call a Fish Taco Salad?”  I had some great answers, but just thought “Fish Taco Salad” really told the tale.  Same thing with the pinto bean rice tunzveg salad I made for tailgating last week. 

Or, just for kicks, I threw in this photo (above) of the kid and the pumpkins.  It’s October.  I don’t know this kid’s name.  I don’t remember where I got this picture.  I’ve looked and looked.  Who is this kid?  What’s her/his? name?  It matters; it really does.  But I dunno.  If you know, tell me.

Recipe names are important, too.  They should say what the recipe is, but they should draw you in, too.  Make you want to cook, as it were.

How about here?  This is my Mom and my nephew Michael in the above pic.  Many years ago.  Mom’s been gone since 1985 and Michael’s in his 30’s, married with children.  Mom; she was my mom.  But she had a name.  Even to my kids, she was our “Mom’s mom” or “grandma.”  But she definitely was Faiery Elizabeth Denny McClendon.  Born today in 1917.  Happy Birthday, Fay.  You’re my screensaver, Mom. 

Here’s Michael today.  With daughter Allison.  Hmm.  I wish they were here!

But then there’s this little punkin.
Aaron Noah Wilkerson. 
Named for himself.
And his big brother, who’s no longer here, but is among the names God calls daily in heaven.
Nearly 9 pounds and 20 inches long.  A solid chunk of humanity.  So loved. So awaited.  So beautiful.
They knew just what to call YOU!

Welcome to our world, Aaron.  We’ll love having you here.  When you’re bigger, you can eat some of this salad.  That I’m unsure what to call.  Maybe your Mom can help; she’s good with words, too.  Good with making beautiful babies, too.  Well, Dad helped.  And everyone prayed.  And prayed.  I cannot wait to see you baptized!!

Still.  This IS a food blog.  Most of the time.  So here’s my tailgating salad.  Try it.  Put different vegetables in it.  Play with the seasonings.  I found it needed citrus–acid and then a little sweetness–the butternut squash and the honey.  This makes a LOT.  And, maybe you can come up with a name.  See this little bowl I used for photography?  You’ll need a bigger bowl than that, I’d guess.  We adored this.

Pinto Rice Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing  or  Here it is, Loren–you asked for it!!
12-14 servings

This was great with chicken enchiladas and sour cream.  It’d be lovely with tacos–fish  or meat.  It is also an awesome vegetarian meal…leave out the cheese for vegans.  Pretty nice for gluten-free folks, too.  WhooHoo.

3 cups cooked pinto beans (do it yourself or use rinsed canned ones)
3 cups cooked white rice
1/2 c cabbage, finely sliced
1 c cubed (small) white cheddar cheese
2 small zucchini, diced **
1 small yellow squash, diced **
3 stalks celery, diced
1 c butternut squash, cooked, peeled and diced*  (or use acorn squash)
1 avocado, barely ripe, diced
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off*  (or 1 c frozen, defrosted corn)
1 bunch green onions, chopped (white and green)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped roughly

Dressing:  Juice of 3 limes and 1/2 c olive oil, 2 cloves finely minced garlic, 1/2 t kosher salt, 1/2 t freshly ground pepper, 1/4 t ground cayenne pepper or to taste

Juices of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 lime, 1 orange; 2T honey

1 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half

In a very large bowl or 10 qt stockpot, mix the beans through cilantro gently.  Pour 1/2 the dressing over all and mix again easily.  Taste and adjust for seasonings.  Squeeze over all the lemon, lime and orange juice.  Drizzle honey over all.  Mix again and taste for and adjust  seasonings.  Garnish with cherry tomatoes.  (Don’t mix them in; they’ll mush up by the next day if you keep any of this that long.)  Have the courage of your convictions and make this salad your own, changing up any of it.  I really just made it up as I went along, after beginning with the idea of a bean-rice salad that felt and tasted very fresh.

Eat now or chill and serve within 1-2 days.  Use remaining dressing at table or to moisten salad next day.

*Cook the corn and the squash in the microwave: 

 For the corn— Place whole ears of corn with husks and silks on dampened paper towel.  Cook two ears about 4-5 minutes total.  Remove ears from microwave and wrap in foil.  Let steam for 5 minutes in foil and take off husks/silk.  Cut kernels from corn by holding cob perpendicular to (and resting against)  the cutting board.  Slice downward, cutting between the kernels and the cob itself, moving around and turning the cob as each section falls to the board.

 For the squash–Cut squash in half.  Cook one half at a time.  Place the squash in a 8″ square microwave-safe glass container and pour about 1/2″ water in the bottom.  Cover and cook on high 5 minutes or so.  Let sit another 5 minutes and remove squash from skin to dice on cutting board.  Make your winter squash like this often and save lots of time.

**I sauteed the zucchini and the yellow squash for just a couple of minutes before adding it to the salad; you can leave it raw or cook it, even in the microwave, too–just as you like.  Another option:  throw in for the last couple of minutes with rice or beans.

Above:  Winter Squash Fast, left, and my drained beans, right.  Try cooking the beans in the microwave, too.  They get done without getting mushy.  I like them cooked up with lots of whole onions (peels, too) and a couple of cloves of garlic..as well as a whole jalapeno and lots of salt and whole peppercorns.  You get a little heat without overwhelming the beans or the salad.  Don’t forget to remove the peppercorns before eating!

Happy Fall, dear ones.  Cook a pot of beans.  Make some winter squash.  Feel autumn come. 
Sing a new song,