On the 100th day of school, children are often asked to bring 100 of something to school. It is a fun math centered activity for little ones. This year, I was out of town on day 100, so my sister-in-law, Val was in charge of the selection. She chose 100 grains of forbidden rice, also called black rice. And that is why I have had black rice in my pantry. I had never purchased it or cooked it before.
So, a few days ago I was digging around in my pantry for inspiration…for a save, really. I needed simple. That usually ends up being spaghetti. But I saw the black rice and thought to myself that it was time to put it to use. Then it struck me how lovely black rice and black beans would be together. And that is how this recipe was born. I love the way that staring into the pantry sometimes yields a “Eureka” moment. Sometimes. Given the coming heat, I tried to think of a cool (as in temperature), picnic worthy take on black beans and rice. I made a vinaigrette using tomatoes, lime, and a hint of very fresh powdered cumin. It really turned out to be a lovely dish. I’ve made it twice since and I think this is one of those dishes I will be making for years to come. This recipe makes extra vinaigrette. I tend to dress salads heavily, fairly killing any nutritional edge they might have…but that is why you may have about one-third cup of dressing left. But, use it. It is wonderful. I served this bean and rice dish with a simple side of chopped Romaine tossed with the remaining dressing and some shredded Gruyere and it was great.
Recipe: (6 generous side servings)
3 cups cooked black rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup grape tomatoes, divided use (⅓ cup whole, ⅔ cup sliced in half)
1 serrano pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
¼ cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons lime juice (approximately 1 lime)
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1. Prepare the rice according to package directions. When cooked, spread it out on a plate to cool.
2. Meanwhile prepare the dressing. In a blender, combine ⅓ cup of the grape tomatoes, serrano pepper, onion, lime juice, white wine vinegar, cumin, salt and pepper. Process until almost smooth. Drizzle the olive oil through the feed hole on the lid of the blender. Blend until fully emulsified. Check the flavor. Add salt as needed.
3. Cut the remaining grape tomatoes and allow them to drain on a paper towel while the rice cooks and cools. When the rice has cooled, combine it with the beans and the remaining grape tomatoes. Add dressing until the rice and beans are well coated (about ½ of the dressing) and stir to evenly distribute the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reserve the remaining dressing. Freshen the salad with a little more dressing and a squirt of lime juice just before serving. Serve at room temperature.
Regarding the grape tomatoes, they aren’t easy to measure in a small cup measure. One-third is an approximation. If you have a scale (and you should) I used 60 grams of grape tomatoes in the dressing. But, you can just fill up the ⅓ cup measure generously, and it will be fine. The dressing is a slightly liquid preparation, anyway. An extra tomato one way of the other is fine.
Regarding black rice, it is an Asian grown rice that is left unmilled. That is to say, it still has its black husk attached. The black husk is a fiber rich coat that is full of valuable nutrients and anti-oxidents. CNNHealth Online reported, “But only black-rice bran contains the antioxidants known as anthocyanins, purple and reddish pigments — also found in blueberries, grapes, and acai — that have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, improvements in memory, and other health benefits.” Black rice has a very nutty scent when cooked. In fact, as I cooked it, I thought is smelled quite similar to black beans. It is chewy and delicious. It is more like brown rice in texture than white rice. And it is not the same as the black colored wild rice that we have long had access to. You might need to search a little to find black rice, but it is becoming more available.
Mother’s Day is near! Do you need a little something for the mom in your world…stop by the ETSY shop. You can get a Nancy Lou Spoon, a pastry cloth made by yours truly, or a set of farmers market cards. Easy solution.