I like to bring a good plant-based dish or two when I go to a friend’s house for a dinner to guarantee that there will be something for me to eat. I never want my host or hostess to feel like I am a pain in the butt or high maintenance so I always pop a veggie appetizer and/or main course quietly on the table and then I can relax and enjoy a glass of wine and the good company.
This salad is light, refreshing and darn tasty (if I do say so myself) and tastes best at room temperature so it is perfect to tote along to a dinner party, picnic or potluck. I also like to make this dish for lunch or a light dinner at home although I have got some push back from my kids in the past because of the “black” rice. However, once they tasted it they had to admit that aside from the colour, it actually tastes pretty much the same as the white rice that they already enjoy.
Black rice also has amazing health benefits. Recently a group of Chinese scientists discovered that “just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fibre and vitamin E antioxidants. Anthocyanin antioxidants can help fight cancer, heart disease and other diseases.” (Source: Professor Zhimin Xu from Louisiana State University Agricultural Centre, when reporting on the research at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society).
This is a quick and filling dish to whip up and as an added bonus it is quite lovely to look at. Try it out at home or pop a platter on the table at the next dinner party you attend and watch it disappear!
Black & White Rice Pilaf (adapted from Vegan Lunch Box, Jennifer McCann)
3/4 cup chopped raw pecans
1 cup dried black rice
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely minced
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1 tsp salt
1 small bunch of asparagus, chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
Juice of 2 lemons
Freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. each finely chopped fresh chives and fresh basil (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Place chopped pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice to avoid burning. Set aside.
Cook black rice according to package directions. Leave covered and set aside.
Lightly steam the asparagus for 5-10 minutes leaving it crunchy and bright green. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. When hot, add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the white rice and salt and cook, stirring for 3 minutes until rice starts to turn translucent. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes.
When the white rice is done, turn off the heat, open the lid and place the frozen veggies on top of the cooked rice. Cover again and allow the veggies to steam for 5 minutes.
Transfer all rice and veggies to a serving dish and toss to combine. Add herbs and gently toss. Stir in the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Top with toasted pecans. Enjoy!