With summer still very much with us, and the blessed coolness of autumn and a hint of rain, either a distant memory or a wistful hope, I thought a lovely summer salad might be a good idea.
Dear sweet Elspeth found the remains of a packet of black rice in the grocery cupboard, a gift from fellow foodie, Ann Coetzee, so that became the rice base for the salad.
Black rice originates from Japanese rice, according to a recent Japanese research study*, which identified the gene which mutated, triggering the production of large amounts of anthocyanin, which lends the rice its colour, its nutty flavour, and it is, of course, a powerful antioxidant.
Black rice is much tastier than white rice, or even brown rice, with its earthy, nutty flavour, and tender firmness.The water you cook the rice in will be a deep purple-back when you’re done, but do not be put off. That’s just some of the anthocyanin leaching out.
Black rice is not that widely available, but I do know you can get it from Woolworths, Wellness Warehouse and Faithful to Nature.
The ingredients we have included in the list is a matter of personal preference, so please feel free to experiment.
Ingredients, selection and preparation
1 cup black rice
pinch of salt
1/2 cup salted roasted cashew nuts
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 spring onions or 4 baby leeks: thinly sliced
100g mange tout: ideally sugar snaps and corn spears. Slice the peas diagonally, into 5mm bits, and slice the corn spears about 3mm thick
1 cup cherry tomatoes: halved
1 green chilli: deseeded and finely sliced
1 head of butter lettuce: ideally a head with nice cup-shaped leaves. Separate and wash and dry six leaves. You’ll be serving the salad in them.
Freshly ground black pepper
Cook the rice in a medium saucepan of salted water, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly, and spread out evenly on a large platter to cool.
Prepare the vinaigrette. Whisk together the lemon juice, honey, mustard and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle the olive oil into the bowl. Whisk briskly until the vinaigrette is smooth and glossy.
Once the rice has cooled down completely, place it in a medium bowl, and add the cashew nuts, spring onions/baby leeks, chilli, mange tout, and the tomatoes.
Toss together to mix well, then drizzle over the vinaigrette. Mix in the vinaigrette, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the salad leaves on small plates, and divide the salad between them. Serve with your favourite protein. We had pan-roasted chicken breasts, which went down a treat.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Yield: serves 6
* The Birth of a Black Rice Gene and Its Local Spread by Introgression, 2015 American Society of Plant Biologists.