by Kathleen Walck

Last month, my son’s elementary school harvested their courtyard garden.  As someone who aspires to one day have a huge backyard garden, I volunteered to help the kids pick and learn about veggies and native plants that are in the space.  I also offered to cook a dish using some of their pickings, which would be served in the lunchroom the next day, along with other parent volunteers’ dishes.  The goal was for all of the kids to try at least something that was offered, and as far as I know, the lunch was a success.  Even my picky son tried some raw veggies.

I puzzled over what to make.  It had to be something kid friendly, of course, but there’s also the concerns of nut/dairy allergies, as well as those who follow vegan or gluten-free diets.  I looked to rice, as it’s a gluten-free food and is also tasty in so many ways.  And to please any palate, I thought about combining sweet, sour, and savory to make a dish that should appeal to anyone.  Hence, this tasty Sweet, Sour and Savory Sesame Rice Salad.

September 21, 2013 014 copy

It might be a mouthful to say, but once this gets in your mouth, you might have trouble avoiding seconds (or thirds!).  My family devoured it, and you’d be hard pressed to think that you were missing out on gluten. I used veggies that were available from the school garden, but you could certainly substitute any other seasonal or frozen veggies.  Actually, I had added a leftover diced sweet potato to this dish, which you might see in the photos, but didn’t put it in the version I sent to the school, since they didn’t grow them in the garden.




  • 4 cups cooked long grain brown rice
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cups purple or green beans, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 leeks, white parts minced (you could substitute a small onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • olive oil for sauteing vegetables
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp Gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground or fresh ginger (finely minced)
Make the dressing by whisking together the dressing ingredients.  Pour over the rice and toss to combine.  Set aside to give the rice some time to absorb the dressing.

Meanwhile, saute the leeks in olive oil until soft, then add the peppers and garlic.  Cook until softened, then add the beans and saute them until slightly softened, but still crisp.  If using purple beans, they will turn green when cooked.
September 21, 2013 010
Toss the vegetables into the rice and serve either warm or chilled.

September 21, 2013 012Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.  Enjoy!

September 21, 2013 017