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My Newly Discovered Potluck Salads and Life Tips From Coach Weatherby

mango and coconut rice salad

I must admit, sometimes I wouldn’t mind living in Paris or Manhattan or picking up every few years and discovering a new part of the country. On the hand, there is something to be said about having deep roots in one community and your children attending the same schools their grandmother did.  It is something special when while watching your daughter play tennis  in the high school district tennis meet your old tennis coach (retired from the same high school) calls to check in on your daughter’s progress. Kind of surreal and very cool when this happened to me a few weeks ago…only in a small town. This same retired teacher/coach, Ms. Weatherby, was the speaker at Ms. G’s senior mother tea a couple of weeks ago and did a brilliant job. Unfortunately, Miss G. had to leave for tennis practice and didn’t hear the speech, but, rest assured, I got her a copy of it. Ms. Weatherby shared with the seniors and their mothers four tips for living life and here they are:

  1. Laugh every day
  2. Treat everyone as an equal…..do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  3. Show up and follow directions – I firmly believe that 90% of our success in life comes from just showing up on time and doing what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it.
  4. Do not compromise your Values – Stay true to your convictions and do what you know is right. My biggest mistakes in life came when I compromised my values to please someone else or to fit in.

The world would be a better place if we all abided by these guidelines.  The world is a better place because of teachers like Coach Weatherby. Which brings me to the new salads I tried out for the teacher appreciation luncheon at Coco’s school. I love those teachers. As much as I love my own kids, I could not handle being trapped in a thirty foot by thirty foot cell room for seven hours a day with 29 six year olds. The thought of being with 29 eleven year olds sends even more shivers of horror down my spine.

Those people deserve great salads! I tried out two new recipes and they were amazing! Don’t let the healthy ingredients scare you – they really are good. I got them out of my Plenty cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. I quadrupled the recipe for  mango and coconut rice salad and it was quite tasty. A word of warning about the red rice. I was excited to find some in the rice aisle at my local grocery store in a great looking package. It was not identified as Camargue, like the recipe called for, but, hey, it was red. Anyways, I’m glad I tasted it before I threw it in the salad because it tasted like crunchy straw. Luckily, I had some wild rice on hand and I just substituted it in. Also, as I don’t like heat I left out the red chile. I also didn’t have any crisp fried shallots, but I don’t think it made a bit of difference. I also left the peanuts in a side dish for those who like peanuts to add on their own.

I also quadrupled the green couscous recipe to great success. Okay, so the picture below doesn’t look all that appetizing..it truly is very appetizing! I left out the green chile in this one. I added the optional feta cheese to make it more substantial. Oh my gosh..the fried onions and herb paste make this salad pure pleasure to taste!


Mango and Coconut Rice Salad

Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi


  • 2/3 cup jasmine or basmati rice
  • 1 t. butter
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup loosely packed Thai basil (regular basil works, too)
  • 1 cup Camargue red rice - see my warning above(or just use wild rice)
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 T. mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 fresh red chile, seede and finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large or 2 small mango, cut roughly into 1 inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 large lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 T. peanut oil
  • 3/4 cup crisp fried shallots, optional (you can find at an asian market)

Cooking Directions:

  1. Cook the rice with the butter, a little salt, the half cup of water and half of the thai basil on the stalk. Remove the basil & spread the rice out on a cookie sheet to cool down.
  2. Cook the red rice per the manufacturer. Drain and spread out on a cookie sheet to cool down. Taste it before allowing to go in the salad (read my post).
  3. Chop up the leaves of the remaining basil and mix in a large bowl with the red bell pepper, mint, cilantro, onions, red chile (optional), lemon zest and juice, mango, peanuts, coconut and peanut oil. Stir just to mix. Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish with shallots, if so desired.

green couscous

Green Couscous

Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi


  • 1 cup couscous
  • 3/4 cup boiling water or veggie broth
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 T. tarragon, chopped
  • 2 T. dill, chopped
  • 2 T. mint, chopped
  • 6 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 3 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 fresh green chile, finely sliced
  • 1 1/4 cup arugula leaves, chopped
  • 4 oz feta , cubed(optional to make it more substantial)

Cooking Directions:

  1. Cover the coucous with the boiling water/ stock in a large bowl, cover with plastic & let sit for ten minutes.
  2. Fry the onion in the tablespoon of olive oil until soft and golden. Season with the salt and cumin and mix well. Cool slightly.
  3. Make the herb paste with all of the herbs and 6 T. olive oil in a food processor. Process until smooth.
  4. Add the herb paste to the couscous and fluff with a fork. Add the onion, pistachios, green onions, green chile (opt.), feta (optional) and arugula and gently mix.
  5. Serve at room temp.


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