“…They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Stilton Cheese…”
— “The Jumblies,” Edward Lear
I’m not sure, but I think Edward Lear was describing my office’s annual holiday potluck.
There was guacamole, enough hummus to re-mortar my house, a million kinds of chips and crackers, samosas, sub sandwiches, cream-cheese pizzas, regular pizzas, tortilla roll-ups, crock-pot chili, crudites, kitchen-sink Chex mix, pasta salad, peanut M&Ms, turtle cookies, swirly cupcakes, a bunch of other weird and wonderful items, AND … my Lear-inspired salad, featuring rice, cranberries, and a bunch of other weird and wonderful items. (Absolutely no Stilton cheese though … blechhh.)
Actually my salad was inspired by Ina Garten, a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa, whose recipe I happened upon in a magazine at my new home-away-from-home, a.k.a. the orthodontist’s office, where my son was having one of his braces re-glued, AGAIN, to his apparently glue-resistant teeth. (Maybe he’s more highly evolved than the average 12-year-old?)
As soon as I saw the sweet-savory salad recipe, I knew it would be perfect for the potluck. The original recipe is here: http://www.lhj.com/recipes/holidays/thanksgiving/ina-gartens-fabulous-thanksgiving/?page=3
But I “made it my own” (by using different amounts of ingredients; subbing wild rice/brown rice blend for plain wild rice, chopped pecans for halved pecans, clementines for navel oranges, red grapes for green grapes, balsamic vinegar for raspberry vinegar — because that’s what I had on hand; and adding fresh parsley — because, why not?), so I’m including my version below.
I did make it barefoot, though, because I think the Contessa — and Lear — would like that.
Festive Rice-and-Cranberry Salad
 Put 1 1/2 c. wild rice/brown rice blend and 3 c. vegetable broth
 While rice is cooking, spread 1/2 c. chopped pecans on a foil-lined baking sheet and pop them in a 350 oven for 2-3 minutes or until toasted. Set aside.
 Peel and section 4 clementines and cut each section in half. Set aside.
 Wash 1 c. red grapes and cut each in half. Set aside.
 Wash, trim, and thinly slice 2 scallions. Set aside.
 Wash and chop a big handful of fresh parsley. Set aside.
 Put rice-cranberry mixture in a mixing bowl. Add the stuff you prepped and set aside in Steps 2-6 (pecans, clementines, grapes, scallions, parsley).
 In a little bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil , 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, and 2 tbsp. orange juice. Pour on top of the rice mixture and fold in thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
 Let flavors blend for at least 1/2 hour before serving. Or refrigerate, and bring up to room temperature before serving.
p.s. Even with all the food there was to choose from at the potluck, my dish was completely devoured. Yay!