I got my hands on Heidi Swanson’s gorgeous new book, Near and Far, back in September (like as soon as it came out), and I haven’t let go of it since. It follows me around…from the kitchen to the couch, up the stairs for some bedtime reading, and back down to the kitchen for breakfast. Near and Far is a collection of recipes that were inspired by Heidi’s home base in California as well as her recent travels to France, Italy, Japan, Morocco, and India, just like the title suggests.
Each chapter corresponds to a place and starts with a pantry list of Heidi’s favourite ingredients from that region. Using these ingredients as palette of sorts, she goes on to create dishes that are so unmistakably hers, regardless of the cuisine that inspired them, invoking a sense of curiosity that I rarely get from cookbooks these days…a little jaded, I guess ;)
I can keep on gushing, but maybe I’ll save some of my compliments for another time, as I’ll surely be cooking and sharing more recipes inspired by this incredible book. If you want to learn more, Heidi shared her journey of writing the cookbook on her blog, starting with notes on writing the proposal, then making the book, and finally flying to Hong Kong to see it printed (or made, as she later corrects).
Picking just one recipe to share with you today wasn’t easy, but when I pulled out the last of our carrots…ding ding ding! We had a winner. The carrot and sake salad was what my fall-cooking dreams were made of, but as usual, I changed it up. A killer carb craving that naturally comes with a chilly mid-October, and not enough seeds in the pantry, I decided to cook up a pot of my favourite black rice and swap it in for half of the seeds, hoping for the best.
I picked up a bottle of sake for the first time in my life, just to get that 1 Tbsp needed for the dressing. Since “sake” is in the title of the recipe, I assumed that it would be worth it, and it was. The dressing was really delicious – seriously lemony, with a hint of brown sugar sweetness, and some subtle, yet unusual flavours, that I assume came from that 1 Tbsp. of boozy goodness.
Thank you, Heidi, for sharing your beautiful work with the world. Please pack me into your suitcase for your next trip, k? Tnx :)
Adapted from Near and Far by Heidi Swanson
- 1 Tbsp. sake
- 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. fine-grained sea salt
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- A few drops of toasted sesame oil
- 1 cup of seeds or nuts (I used mix of sunflower, pumpkin, and chopped hazelnuts)
- 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8th tsp. fine-grain sea salt
- 1 cup of cooked black "Forbidden" rice
- 3/4 lb of carrots, thinly shaved
- 1 small cucumber, halved, seeded, smashed a bit, then chopped
- 6-8 small spring onions or scallions, thinly sliced
- lemon zest
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust. It should be sweet with a lemony bite. Set aside.
- Toss the nuts/seeds with the oil and salt and arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 8 - 10 minutes, until toasted, but watch them carefully, redistributing at around the 5 minute mark. Let them cool.
- When ready to serve, toss the cooked rice with carrots, cucumber, and most of the onions and nuts/seeds. Mix in 3/4 of the dressing. Serve with the remaining nuts/seeds/onions and lemon zest sprinkled on top and the remaining dressing on the side.