I have a favorite summertime salad recipe that is always a huge hit at potlucks and family gatherings. It’s called Jeweled Rice Salad and it is the brainchild of Mollie Katzen, famous New York Times best-selling author of the Moosewood Cookbook. I’ll include the link to the recipe at the end of this post.

The main ingredient of this recipe is brown rice.

“Huh? Brown rice? Like real brown rice?” you say?

Yes. Real brown rice. Long grain. And not that parboiled, enriched Uncle Ben’s shit. I’m talking REAL WHOLE FOOD, people.

It also has chick peas (aka garbanzo beans), grapes, toasted pecans, scallions, and parsley, so it’s a real beaut! The dressing is mostly lemon juice and EVOO with a little honey and garlic; very Mediterranean. It’s best served at room temperature, but the refrigerated leftovers are good the next day too.

This dish is totally different than anything else you’ll see at a potluck (especially in the South) because it’s SO healthy. No condensed soup, no mayo, no stick of butter, no pound o’ cheese. As much as I loves me some Paula Deen, I can’t actually eat most of her recipes (very often) or my butt would be as big as a doublewide, and not in a back-that-up-like-a-Tonka-truck-juicy-JLo-badonkadonk-kinda-way. More of a badonkaDON’T kinda way. (Look, I drink a lot and I don’t really exercise, so eating healthy foods is my only defense against the dark arts.)

This recipe is a little labor intensive, but it’s worth it. I love this dish and I hope you will too! However, in full disclosure, and in honor of Just the Tip Tuesday, I have to tell you something.

The last time I made this salad I had a teensy weensy problem.

But first, you should know, as a story teller and a writer and a private detective wannabe, I have a very keen sense of observation. Like freakishly keen. I notice things. Even minute details. And that’s not always a good thing. Just ask my kids.

So the other day when I was making this dish and I poured the brown rice into my measuring cup, I immediately noticed something strange.

Do you see it?

No?

How about now…

No? Not yet?

Okay, let’s try this: (Special thanks to my kid for his badass LiveQuartz skillz!)

See it now? In the red circle? Looks like a grain of rice…but with a little brown tip. (Grandma, put your damn glasses on!)

How ’bout if we zoom in and drastically blur the background?

Do you see what I see? A grain of rice with SEGMENTS? AND A FACE!!!

Maybe an action shot will help:

That picture IS a little blurry. Okay fine. I have no choice but to pick it up and show you up close and personal:

Ew! I'm holding it! The things I do for you people.

One of those things is NOT like the others!!!

Wait, lemme zoom in a little bit more so you can really appreciate the fine details:

Ride that weevil, Paula!

Paula! You so crazy!

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce my uninvited houseguest: the Indian Meal Moth larva. Some people call this thing a pantry weevil. I call him Bubba.

Apparently Bubba and a bunch of his free-loadin’ kinfolk hitchhiked into my home inside the corner of my new bag of brown rice last week. Aw hayle no.

As observant as I am, I just didn’t notice the little spidery webs in the corner of my bag of rice while I was shopping at Publix the other day. I blame the three children who were threatening to tip over the cart while chanting “WE WANT POP TARTS! WE WANT POP TARTS!” It’s hard to do quality control when you are trying to negotiate with terrorists.

Well, shit. What’s a girl to do?

I guess I could have thrown out the rice and gone back to the store. But I hate to waste food and didn’t have time for that. Besides, chances were good that all the other bags of rice at the store were equally infested.

So you know what I did? I picked out the larvae and cooked up the rice anyway. So what? Big deal. If I missed a few, extra protein, I say.

Oh shut your rice hole, Betty Lou. Eating a larva or two never hurt anyone. Really. I’ve put worse things in my mouth. And so have you; don’t lie. But if a moth or weevil infestation spreads to the rest of the foodstuff in your pantry and has a free-for-all-orgy, it could be disastrous…as in throw-all-your-food-out-and-start-over. I have a friend who had a really bad infestation last summer. Every time she opened her pantry, moths would fly out at her like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I’m surprised they didn’t peck her eyeballs out or encase her in a giant cocoon and drain her blood while she slept.

I’ve been doing some research about these little buggers ever since I fed my family that Jeweled Rice and Larva Salad. Here are some steps you can take prevent an infestation at your house and keep your meals larvae-free:

  • Every time you buy a new bag of rice, stick it in your freezer for a few days.
  • If you have a current infestation, take everything out of your pantry/cabinet and clean all the shelves and corners with a vacuum and then with soap and water.
  • After it’s all dry, put a few whole bay leaves on each shelf.  Keeps them away, supposedly.  If you have wire mesh shelves, put the leaves in small bowls placed throughout the pantry.
  • Store all dried food goods, including dried pet foods and birdseed, in a glass or plastic container with a tight lid. If bugs are in that food product then the infestation will be contained and not spread to other foods.
  • Consider storing cereals and similar foods in the refrigerator.
  • Consume older food products prior to newer purchases of the same food.
  • Don’t stockpile grains and pasta unless you can store them in airtight containers.

If you’re not all heebie-jeebied out and are still interested in the Jeweled Rice Salad recipe, here it is. Larvae optional, of course. 

Oh by the by, if you and your Mom vote for The Bearded Iris over at Babble.com I promise not to bring any larvalicious food to your next potluck! (I’m in the running for one of the Top 50 Mom Blogs! Whooot!) 

Sweet dreams,

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.