After Spain, I figured I was finished with traveling for the year. And then an e-mail came asking if I wanted to check out St. Petersburg, Florida, and then head out to Orlando for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. How could I refuse such an offer? St. Pete has a fun, budding food scene; and what was nice to see was how supportive everyone is of other businesses, with each brewery, bartender, and chef suggesting I go to this place or that. Too many places, in fact... so another trip will have to be planned. Additionally, the city has a nice art community, with 70+ urban murals scattered around the Downtown area, as well as the Dali Museum and Chihuly Collection, both of which I was able to tour (though they were brief visits). On Monday, I made my way over to Epcot for their annual culinary festival. It's the over-the-top experience one expects from Disney, with all the sounds, smells, and whirling gizmos. What I wasn't prepared for was how delicious the dishes would all be. Each plate felt authentic and not some bastardized version of the country's food. I ate a lot, but I also walked a ton (even as an adult, Epcot felt enormous). I hadn't really seen myself making a trip to Disney World, but I would definitely return for a repeat of this event.
And my travels aren't over. I'm now in Oregon visiting Harry and David (known for their pears, as well as their extensive catalog of products). I'm here for a few days and then I head back to Boston. And I really need to start thinking about our Friendsgiving menu. There are a few dishes on my brain, like this warm wild rice and kale salad. It's one of those creations that came to me after returning from picking up produce at our coop. The pairing of earthy mushrooms, sweet sautéed kale, and the spices and lemon zest make for a vibrant side.
Wild Rice with Sautéed Kale and Oyster Mushrooms
4-6 servings, as a side
1 cup wild rice, rinsed
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves ripped into bite-size pieces
1 pound oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 red pepper, seeds and stem removed, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Zest of a lemon
Add rice, 3 cups water, and 2 teaspoons salt to a pot and bring it to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, cover with a lid and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for about 45 minutes. If there is any remaining liquid, transfer the rice to a colander.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, until they are tender and lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet and set over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, followed by the red pepper. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the kale to the pan (if necessary, do this in stages to keep it from overflowing the pan) and cook until wilted. Season with salt.
Transfer rice to a serving bowl. Add the sautéed vegetables to the bowl, and sprinkle the cinnamon, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and lemon zest on top. Using a large spoon, mix until thoroughly combined. Season with salt, to taste.