But then suddenly, about two months into motherhood, I started to feel pretty lonely (which I understand is a little ironic given that I was no longer alone).
Enter Mommune, my weekly hangout with other new moms! Its roots begin with my friend Rachel, who had a baby boy last October and who works from home one day a week. Then, my pal, who runs this really cool card company had a little boy a couple of months after that. Teddy was born in January. Then, my friend Peggy had a little boy two months later, which was quickly followed up just three weeks later by Bon Appétempt-regular, Jodi, who, yes, also had a boy. So, in short, between moms working from home and moms still on maternity leave, the five of us and our five sons have managed to get together pretty consistently for the past two months, and honestly, it's kind of been a lifesaver for me.
Not only is it fun to meet up with friends in the middle of the week and talk shop on the ins and outs of baby-rearing, but it's also a great place to grab lunch. Last week it was my turn to host. It was also the week The Year in Food's book came out, so of course, I would be cooking something from that. There are so many things I want to make from this book, but for Mommune, which meets around lunchtime, this grain salad seemed perfect. First of all, I love a grain-based salad. Secondly, I loved the idea of making a dressing out of a bunch of cilantro, parsley, and a jalapeño (or two). And lastly, I knew I could do almost everything ahead of time so that in the morning, while Teddy squealed and rolled around on the floor of his room, all I had left to do was cook the rice in my beloved rice cooker and slice some nectarines.
The salad was delicious—perfect for a Los Angeles summer afternoon—as was everything my fellow moms brought to accompany it, from the vichyssoise with croutons Carolyn brought, to the guacamole Rachel brought (recipe via her all-star chef brother) to the Burmese semolina cake Jodi brought. Peggy stopped by with both of her kids that week so was off the hook for also bringing food, which is another reason I love Mommune: we're flexible! In fact, I'm typing up my love for Mommune while missing today's session because Teddy decided to take an ill-timed extra long nap.
On that note, have a great long weekend, friends! And if you have a potluck to attend, I highly recommend bringing this gorgeous salad and/or buying this cookbook for more ideas! xoxo
Green Rice Salad with Nectarines and Corn super slightly adapted from Kimberley Hasselbrink's Vibrant Food
serves 4 to 6
for the green rice:
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 2/3 cups water, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons more for sauce
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
zest and juice of 1 small lime
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
for the grilled corn:
2 small ears fresh corn, husks and silk removed
extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons or more of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 medium-ripe nectarines, pitted and thinly sliced lengthwise
3/4 cup crumbled soft goat cheese
In a saucepan, combine the rice and water, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Let the rice stand for a few minutes, then fluff. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Preheat the broiler.
To grill the corn, lightly oil both ears of corn and place in a small baking dish. Broil about 6 inches from the heat source, turning every few minutes, until golden and blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to plate and set aside until cool enough handle. Using a large sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cob to yield about 1 cup. If you have more than this, save it for another use. Transfer the kernels to bowl and toss with pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime. Set aside.
Transfer the rice to large bowl. In a blender, combine the cilantro, parsley, jalapeño, lime zest and juice, olive oil, pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon water. Blend until smooth. Add up to 2 more tablespoons of water to thin the sauce if it's too thick. Spoon the mixture over the rice, scraping any remaining sauce out of the blender with a spatula, and mix until the rice is evenly coated.
To finish, add the corn and additional parsley and cilantro to the rice. Toss to combine. Transfer the rice to a serving platter. Sprinkle the nectarines and cheese over the rice in even layers. Garnish with additional parsley and cilantro. Best served immediately. Can be made up to a day in advance; bring to room temperature before serving.