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Kale and brown rice salad with cranberries and pecans

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In Praise of Leftovers

(Read caption) This bright and beautiful salad is best served at room temperature. Bring it along to your next potluck, or serve it at home as a side dish with pork chops or chicken.

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I feel two ways about potlucks. On one hand, they're the only sensible way for a big group to gather and eat together. In all my magazine-reading (have I mentioned how much I love magazines? The paper kind?), I often come across "Easy do-ahead party menus!" that look atrocious. More work than I have ever put into having anyone over in my life. Maybe each step is technically easy, but you'd still have to be unemployed (or have a kitchen staff), hyper organized, and love cooking to pull it off. So potlucks solve this problem.

However, sometimes too many potlucks stack up in one week, and I find they are just as much work (or more) than what I would have made for my family that night. And I have occasionally cursed potlucks, though please don't tell anyone. Puget Sounders are supposed to love them. Always.

I adore people that bring a hot, main dish to potlucks. People with crockpots (I gave mine away as it was suffering from disuse), people with those handy Rubbermaid sets with thermal jackets. If you're one of those, thank you! Keep doing your thing!

As for me and my house, we will supply the salad. It's usually something like this one – brown rice and kale salad with cranberries and pecans. Here's my reasoning:

1. It's vegan and gluten free. And I label it as such. 

2. It's filling. Though I'm not a main dish super hero (God bless you!) it's conceivable that someone could eat a load of this and feel fairly satisfied.

3. It's delicious. Have I ever let you down? (Don't chime in if I have. I know readers have slaved over some recipes and been ruinously disappointed. I'm sorry!)

4. It is best served room temperature. (Potluck royalty!)

5. It can sit in its vinaigrette forever and just get better. You don't have to worry about it getting soggy.

6. Crazily, I usually have everything I need for a version of this salad -- grains, greens, homemade vinagrette. If you wash and dry kale and put it in a ziploc bag in the fridge, it lasts a really long time. (Though it gets gobbled up around here. Along with a latte and Triscuits, it's the food I eat almost every day.)

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