During the first full week of August, I was in MS visiting my family. They live in Laurel, a small town in Jones County, 90 miles north of the coastal towns of Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Ocean Springs, etc. If you watched Hurricane Katrina coverage in 2005, these town names, in addition to New Orleans, may be familiar to you.
Despite being so far inland, then governor of the state, Haley Barbour, declared Jones County the hardest hit of any area outstide the immedate coastal strike zone due to the number of tornadoes spawned by the storm system.
Because of damage to their home, my parents and sister were displaced for nearly a year; but they were fortunate to find a lovely rental home near downtown on 6th Avenue, my favorite street in Laurel, where we spent Christmas that year.
Once you have lived through something like that, you never want to be without prepared foods in the house that don’t absolutely require refrigeration or cooking, at least not until opened. So, there is a always still a plethora of canned goods about which I tease them good naturedly. I love to cook for them–and they seem to enjoy it too–so I am frequently creating new dishes, like this one, from their “storm cellar.”
Feel free to cook your rice or other grain “to order,” and use fresh corn but, trust me, this salad is really delicious with the prepared rice and canned corn. It was inspired by a salad I saw on an airport menu as I dashed through ATL on the way to see them. All I saw was “Corn and Peanut Salad.” I have no idea what else might have been in it or what it tasted like, but it doesn’t much matter, as this one is first class (get it?).
1-8.5 ounce package Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice: Whole Grain Medley: Quinoa and Brown Rice with Garlic (or 2 cups cooked grain of your choice)
1-15.5 ounce cans corn, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked corn, fresh or frozen)
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 large tomato, cored and diced
1-2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely slivered or chopped
Sea Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Optional garnish: fresh basil sprigs
In a medium bowl, gently toss together all ingredients except olive oil and white wine vinegar. In a small cup or bowl, whisk together olive oil and vinegar. Drizzle over salad and toss again to combine. Refrigerate, covered, for 2 or more hours to marry flavors.