With summer upon us, many are turning outdoors for casual summer meals — think simply grilled items and light, fresh salads — which sound great after a long, if not particularly cold or snowy, winter.
And for a time, it is great — the burgers! The dogs! The chicken! The salad!
But if we don’t jazz things up, before long the barbecue can get a little, well, boring. Today’s column presents an antidote for the bore-becue: bangin’ sauce and fiesta rice salad. The sauce is a riff on bang bang sauce, a Sriracha-infused mayonnaise that was all the rage a few years ago. It was (and still is) delicious, but the version here kicks it up a notch with the addition of fresh herbs and lime juice. The sauce is a revelation and amps up just about anything: See below for ideas on how to use it.
The fiesta rice salad was born out of a desire to use up some surplus rice and a need for a make-ahead side dish. This version tilts south of the border, but that is not required — if your palate prefers other flavors, feel free to swap and be creative — change out the veggies, use different beans, mix in quinoa or wild rice, ditch the cumin and go with curry powder or paprika or lemon juice or just salt and pepper … you get the idea.
The recipe below is just one way to make this useful and versatile dish. Two added benefits: It can be made in advance and stored in the fridge so the cook is ahead of the game, and it is a robust enough dish that vegetarians and vegans will be well fed even if they eschew the burgers. Pro tip: Make extra and have it for lunch the next day.
Bangin’ Sauce | Pareve
Makes about 1 cup
This recipe uses mayo and is pareve. If desired, sour cream and/or yogurt can take the place of half or all the mayo, thus making the dish dairy.
If you are one of those people who hate cilantro, you can ditch it altogether or use fresh parsley, mint, basil or a combination thereof.
¾ cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1-2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
Salt to taste
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Store it in the fridge until ready to use.
Ways to use bangin’ sauce
- Add it as a condiment for burgers, grilled chicken, kebabs, hot dogs or sausages.
- Spread on sandwiches — your turkey sandwich will never be the same.
- Stir it into tuna or chicken salad.
- Use it as a dip for veggies, breadsticks, crackers, dumplings or samosas.
- Spread it on toast points and top it with smoked salmon or trout for a delicious canape.
- Thin it with some water and use it as a salad dressing.
- Marinade meat, chicken or fish with it.
- Spread it on grilled fish or meat before serving and pass additional around at the table (if you don’t, guests will ask).
- Make parchment or foil packets for fish and schmear the fillets with bangin’ sauce; cover it loosely and bake it at 300 degrees F for 25 minutes.
Fiesta Rice Salad | Pareve
The rice in this salad must be completely cool (or, better yet, chilled) before assembling it — if it is too warm, it will steam the herbs and veggies.
Choosing different colored veggies — red onion, orange pepper, black beans, yellow corn — delivers a beautiful salad to place on the table or buffet, but if you don’t have easy access to a diverse array of hues, no matter, because the salad will still taste great.
This salad is best made several hours (or up to 2 days) ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld.
3 cups cooked rice (brown or white), thoroughly cooled
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ a large red onion, chopped
½ a large bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 handful chopped cilantro
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1 cup corn
(canned corn works well)
Salt and pepper to taste
¼-½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno, optional
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and store it in the refrigerator until an hour before the meal. Allow the salad to come to room temperature, then serve.
Keri White is a Philadelphia-based food writer.